Exploring Ancient Symbolism of Fruits and Modern Implications for Access to Healthy Food

Discover the ancient symbolism of fruits in Greek sanctuaries and how it relates to contemporary issues of access to healthy food. Explore the potential benefits of revitalizing produce prescription programs and bridging the gap for affordable and available fruits and vegetables.

Exploring Ancient Symbolism of Fruits and Modern Implications for Access to Healthy Food

Exploring Ancient Symbolism of Fruits and Modern Implications for Access to Healthy Food - -49270201

( Credit to: Badgerherald )

In her research titled "Fruit for the God(-desses): Re-evaluating Vegetal Representations in Sacrifice and Offerings in Greek Sanctuaries (8th-1st Centuries BCE)," Andrea Samz-Pustol delves into the significance of fruits, such as pomegranates and quinces, in Greek sanctuaries. She also highlights how we can apply their ancient symbolism to address contemporary issues, particularly in relation to access to healthy food and medicine.

Exploring Ancient Symbolism of Fruits and Modern Implications for Access to Healthy Food - -2046308546

( Credit to: Badgerherald )

Samz-Pustol, who graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a BA in Classics and Art History, draws inspiration from her time in Greece, her love for food festivals, and her upbringing on a farm in Wisconsin. Her interest in fruits and vegetables in the ancient world was sparked by the discovery of a fruit plate artifact during her site work in Sicily and Martina, which led her to realize the lack of research in this area.

The Role of Fruit in Medicine: Ancient Relevance and Modern Applications

One aspect of her research that Samz-Pustol emphasizes is the role of fruit in medicine, particularly its relevance to women and low-income populations in ancient Greece. Fruit was readily available and affordable, making it accessible to various socio-economic classes, including marginalized and low-income communities. However, in modern Western society, fruits and vegetables are often expensive and unaffordable for many.

Interestingly, ancient texts, such as the Hippocratic writings, indicate that food was used as medicine in the past. This notion is gaining traction in current scientific studies, which reveal the numerous health benefits of fruits and vegetables, including their potential to mitigate the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and cardiovascular disorders.

In response to this growing understanding, produce prescription programs have emerged, where healthcare professionals prescribe fruits and vegetables alongside medication. Research from the American Heart Association suggests that participation in these programs leads to improvements in vegetable intake, food security, and various health markers. Unfortunately, programs like the one that existed in Madison, which partnered with the Wholesome Wave Program and the Willy Street Co-Op to offer fruit and vegetable prescriptions to low-income populations, have ceased due to funding constraints.

Revitalizing Produce Prescription Programs: Bridging the Gap for Healthy Food Access

Although there are currently no similar programs in Madison, Samz-Pustol believes that the University of Wisconsin can play a vital role in revitalizing such initiatives or drawing inspiration from their models. She believes that contributing to the well-being of the wider population beyond the confines of academia aligns with the Wisconsin Idea, a core belief that education should positively impact people's lives outside the classroom.

This concept has also motivated the creation of the First Generation Low-Income Federation, an organization co-founded by Samz-Pustol within the society for classical studies. The federation aims to support first-generation low-income undergraduate students, graduate students, and professors working in the field of ancient Mediterranean studies.


By exploring the ancient symbolism of fruits and their significance in Greek sanctuaries, Andrea Samz-Pustol's research sheds light on the modern-day implications for access to healthy food. Her work underscores the importance of addressing the affordability and availability of fruits and vegetables, not only for the well-being of individuals but also for the overall health of communities. Through initiatives inspired by her research, we can strive to bridge the gap and ensure that everyone has access to the nourishing benefits of fruits and vegetables.

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