Pears: History and origins
The pear is a fresh fruit whose origins are dated back to Stone age. The very old origins of pears can be traced in the South-Eastern European and in the Western Asia. For this reason we can say that the pear is a typically Mediterranean fruit. Probably, men ate the fruits of the pear tree already 4000 years ago: anyway, more than 350 years b.C. the cultivation and the production of the pear was quite widespread in the Magna Graecia; Theophrastus, ancient Greek author, mentioned both the wild varieties of pears and the varieties cultivated by men.
According to Homer and to the Greek mythology the pear was considered a healthy and tasty fruit, loved also by deities and heroes.
In the Roman era, Cato and Pliny gave precise indications on the production of pears and on the known varieties of pears, as a mark of the great consideration that was given to this fresh fruit. They also improved the cultivations techniques, while Pompey and the Emperor Nero were great consumers of this fruit and vegetable product.
In the Roman Empire, the varieties of pears known were about 40: little by little the wide range of varieties and the experiments of new varieties of pears have highly increased, arriving today to more than 5000 varieties of pears present on the world fruit and vegetable sector.
During all the Early Middle Ages, the production of pears grew and developed also in all Europe and in particular in Belgium and France, while in Italy, it was still difficult to find autonomous orchards: in this period, in fact, this fresh fruit is not mentioned very much and it seems that the demand of this fruit and vegetable product fell. The medical treaties of the time, even advised against the consumption of fruit: fresh fruit was, actually considered superfluous, incidental and a luxury food.
The cultivation of fruit trees, and with it the the cultivation pears, seemed to intensify in 1400, when the agronomists began to give their attention to this sector of production: the pear, at the end of the century, was known and cultivated also in Mexico and in California, because the Spanish missionaries had exported it in America.
In 1500 fruit tree and pear trees were grown in gardens, even though, during Renaissance, the fruit growing was not yet used to feed, but was still considered a luxury for nobles.
In 1600, was finally published an agricultural text called “L’economia del cittadino in Villa” (The Economy of the Citizen in Villa) written by Vincenzo Tanara from Bologna: since then, also in Italy began to be seen hills and plains cultivated with orchards, where the main grafted cultivation was that for the production of pears.
The history of pears brings out the fact that this fresh fruit was present on the world fruit and vegetable market since very old times and that its production and processing is therefore rooted in man's culture.
In the world fruit and vegetable sector, countless varieties of pears are produced, in fact, today the pear is the fresh fruit with the largest number of varieties produced and traded on the international fruit and vegetable market. Nowadays, there are many companies that produce pears, certified companies for the production of pears, companies that produce organic pears, companies that deal with the trade of pears, retailers of pears, importers of pears, exporters of pears and wholesalers of pears: such a large range of varieties has largely increased competition among the world countries (EU member and not) for the production of pears and the trade of pears.