Garden of Eden Mangoes Ripened Long Before its Apples

The following article, Garden of Eden mangoes ripened long before its apples was written by Bob Morris, Fort Myers News Press, August 11, 1981 Just so you’ll understand my perspective, allow me to be plainspoken form the start. I love mangoes. Do not misunderstand. This is not puppy love or mere infatuation, such as that I hold for apples, peaches, pears and other pedestrian fruits. This is true love, deep and abiding love, and seeing as how this is mango season. I am doing my darndest not to swoon from the thrill of it all. Chief cause for my excitement is stashed in a cool corner of my garage – a brimful basket of choice Kent mangoes grown by none other than Jack Flowerree. I’m not one to measure the quality of love, but I think it’s fair to say that Jack Flowerree loves mangoes even more than I do. Indeed, Jack Flowerree is a mango maniac. “I love mangoes, I breathe mangoes,” says Jack Flowerree. “I eat ‘em for breakfast, lunch, dinner and all points in between.” Jack Flowerree lives out near the Bokeelia North end of Pine Island, smack dab in the middle of some 1,000 mango trees in various stages of maturity, from newly sprouted seedlings to abundantly productive, full-grown varieties that he has grafted and nurtured along. A sprawling concrete block building bearing a sign that says “Mango Factory” sits on one corner of Jack Flowerree’s property and from there he dispenses his magnificent mangoes, mangoes that without doubt or qualification are the best I’ve ever eaten. I try to visit Jack Flowerree at least once or twice every summer and buy at least a bushel of mangoes each time. Those I can’t eat as fast as they ripen, I slice and freeze and save for wintertime. On a cold, gray day in February, when the season is at its gloomiest, I can pull some mangoes from the freezer, taste their exotic flesh and truly believe that all is right with the world. This is because there is something magical and mystical about mangoes. Do not think I exaggerate when I make those claims about mangoes. Jack Flowerree agrees with me. In fact, Jack Flowerree makes a far greater claim about the magical and mystical nature of mangoes. Jack Flowerree believes that mangoes are the Forbidden Fruit, the fruit that led to Adam and Eve getting booted from the Garden of Eden. He’s got proof, too. “I have studied up on this,” he told me the other day as we walked through his grove, inspecting the trees. “I have read all sorts of scholarly documents about mangoes and I have read virtually every version of the Old and New Testaments that has been written. There is no doubt in my mind that the mango is the Forbidden Fruit. “Of course, most people think the apple with the Forbidden Fruit. But the apple didn’t come along until the time of King Solomon which was thousands of years after Adam and Eve were eating mangoes in the Garden of Eden. “Now the Forbidden Fruit was forbidden because it held the knowledge of both good and evil. Just take a look at the mango. It holds both good and evil. The skin contains a poison that’s just like Poison Ivy. If you eat it you get a rash and break out something terrible. But once you get past the skin there’s the fruit and you only have to eat it one time to know what true goodness is. There is nothing in the world quite as good. Beyond the fruit, thought, is the seed and there’s where more evil lies. The seed of the mango contains cyanide and I don’t have to tell you that’s one of the evilest poisons there is.” This much established, Jack Flowerree has put together his own story of what really happened in the Garden of Eden. He told it to me as we set in the Mango Factory trying to decide which one of this luscious fruits we were going to eat next. “Now as I see it, Eve left Adam lying home in bed one day and went out into the Garden. Right in the middle of the Garden was a mango tree full of fruit. A mango tree full of fruit is like a neon sign. You cannot help but be attracted to it. Eve stepped up, reached out and a mango just kinda fell off into her hand. “Well, of course she ate it and because a mango is so juicy, she got it all over her face. Eve went back to Adam and he woke up and started kissing her and he tasted all that mango juice and he said: “Eve, what is that delicious stuff all over your face?” That’s when Eve handed him a mango and told him to eat. Adam knew he wasn’t supposed to eat the Forbidden Fruit, but after all it was a mango and who could resist, and besides Eve was the only woman in the world and he didn’t want to get on her bad side. “No sooner had Adam eaten that mango than there was all this thunder and lightning and the heavens opened up and God stuck out His hand and pointed at Adam and said two words. He said “Man! Go!” The rest, of course, is history. And with that Jack Flowerree peeled another mango and offered me a dripping slice. We both agreed that Adam and Eve had suffered something terrible for their indulgence in the Forbidden Fruit, but we also agreed that it was darn sure worth the sacrifice.