Is the etrog the world’s greatest super fruit?
Meet the man who's built a business promoting its health benefits.
Uzi-Eli Chezi is a very happy man. He laughs and smiles for the duration of his interview with From The Grapevine, and this contagious positivity can in large part be chalked up to one major presence in his life: the etrog.
Introduced to the Mediterranean thousands of years ago, the etrog is an often overlooked citrus fruit, but thanks to Uzi-Eli, as he likes to be referred to, it's earning a reputation as a super fruit worth paying attention to.
Uzi-Eli hails from a family whose members have long been enthralled with the secrets of herbal concoctions and medicine, spices and fruits. He is the third generation that has put such interests into practice.
"People need health from nature," Chezi told From The Grapevine. "Here we give people things not from humans, only from nature."
Uzi-Eli uses all of the etrog in his quest to heal. (Photo: Rachel Barenblat/Flickr)
In 2003 he opened his first juice stand in Jerusalem's main market. It made him a household name in Israel, and earned him the moniker "The Etrogman." It led to a second store, recently opened in Tel Aviv, which is just as popular.
Today Uzi-Eli sells several drinks, all of which boast medicinal properties. There's one drink, for example, made with dates and almonds and good for stomach and heart health. But the etrog remains the main attraction. He uses all parts of the fruit, from the skin down to the seeds, and has developed a line of products (all of which you'll soon be able to purchase online) with it, that can cure anything from bad breath to backaches. One such product is a cleansing spray that remains at hand to cool down customers during the warm summer Mediterranean months.
"I took the skin of the etrog and made a spray. It's for acne and it renews the skin and it refreshens. One spray and you'll be awake and alert," he explained. "It'll keep you younger."
The genius of the man is that his products have multiple uses. The spray can be used to cure unhealthy gums, and it makes for a refreshing spritzer when a few drops are added to soda water.
He also has a face and hand cream, pain-relieving lotion, ointments, shampoo and even soap.
His etrog juice is perhaps the most popular product, however. Made with etrog, water and grapefruit, it's sweet and bitter. He said it improves heart health, fights depression, helps cure hot flashes in women and even gives men strength and virility. It's become so popular that he has recently started discussions with a company in the United States about selling it there and developing a line of sodas.
Uzi-Eli's business has quickly become a family one. His son helps operate the Jerusalem location and it is his daughter, Maayan, who is in charge of day-to-day operations in Tel Aviv.
"The fourth generation!" exclaimed Uzi-Eli of his children's involvement.
"It was something me and my brother grew up around," Maayan told From The Grapevine. After working in fashion briefly, she decided to shift into the family business. "I really enjoy it. It's something that helps people and makes them better. It's very rewarding."
And people swear Uzi-Eli's goods enhance their lives. No surprise, given the upbeat atmosphere he cultivates and the restorative products he produces.
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Related Topics: Healthy eating