Sun-Dried Kishmish Raisins

Excerpt from Ari’s Top 5 enews

Artisan offering from Afghanistan

When I was a kid, raisins were small, dark purple, and came in red boxes from the supermarket. The remarkable Kishmish raisins from Afghanistan are their spiritual opposite; large, about a half-inch long, and golden in color, they come from one of the most remote regions on the planet! They are some of the most delicious raisins I’ve ever tasted. If you’re a raisin eater, it is absolutely worth taking time to weave some of these into your weekly eating routines. If you’ve never really liked raisins all that much, these might be the ones to change that pattern! 

The Kishmish raisins are yet another in the long list of remarkable offerings we get from the folks at Ziba Foods. Ziba has been working for nearly a decade now to get artisan dried fruits and nuts from Afghanistan to the U.S., doing it always with dignity. In fact, as per the newly-released “A Revolution of Dignity in the Twenty-First Century Workplace,” they seem to very effectively live the six elements of dignity in every direction. All of the Ziba products are organic. They give farmers higher prices for their harvests and pay immediately upon delivery, so farmers aren’t left waiting for cash. Through their work, even through extremely difficult political circumstances, Ziba now employs 25 Afghan women full-time and they work with over 250 foragers and farmers. For many, this is the chance to do the kind of good work I referenced last week. Instead of making outsourced parts for machines, they have the chance to sustain traditional Afghan agriculture, create leadership work for many women in a setting that has become increasingly difficult, and share the literal fruits (and nuts) of their labor with the world. 

The Kishmish raisins can seem cutting edge here in Washtenaw County, but they come from one of the most conservative corners of Afghanistan, Zabul Province in the southeastern corner of the country. They’ve been an integral part of cooking and culture there for millennia. Just to give you context, the entire territory has only twice the population of Ann Arbor but is spread out over 7000 square miles! The region is remote—it’s not even 20 years now since the first small airstrip was built there! At the time, no households in the region had running drinkable water. The work of Ziba is helping to improve things in meaningfully, culturally sensitive ways. In a sense, a small, but still, meaningful bridge to a more positive future for many of the people in the region.