With a history stretching back over 5,000 years, this venerable fruit grows in thick clusters on the giant date palm, native to the Middle East. The name is thought to come from the Greek daktulos, meaning "finger," after the shape of the fruit. Dates require a hot, dry climate and-besides Africa and the Middle East-flourish in California and Arizona. Most varieties range from 1 to 2 inches long and are oval in shape (though some are so chunky they're almost round). All dates have a single, long, narrow seed. The skin is thin and papery, the flesh cloyingly sweet. Dates are green when unripe and turn yellow, golden brown, black or mahogany red-depending on the variety-as they ripen. Dates are a good source of protein and iron. Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. Before a product can be labeled "organic," a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified.