According to a comment in the original post, majority of commercial ones do not contain insects:
"Only some kinds of figs (so called 'Smyrna' types) are pollenated by wasps. The vast majority of figs eaten come from varieties that produce fruit parthenocarpically. It is highly unlikely that the fig you ate at the supermarket was of a variety pollenated by wasps: most north american commercial figs are not."
I chose to believe this explanation :)
Essentially a mutation that gets trees to produce useless fruits that don't have actually developed seeds and don't need pollination. While that sort of mutation would normally be selected against, since the trees can't reproduce via seeds and are expending energy on producing fruit for no reason, it's deliberately selected for by farmers who artificially reproduce the trees via planting cuttings, or grafting them onto rootstock.
(Though I guess really the "naturally" versus "artificially" distinction is a bit, erm, artificial, if you just think of humans as another species, since lots of natural selection is influenced by relationships between species, like the wasp-fig relationship in this article. So trees evolving to please humans isn't really different in kind from trees evolving to work well with wasps.)
"Aritificial" means "man-made", and is a (man-made/artificial) word invented to describe things that are done by humans, not other animals. By definition, everything a farmer makes is artificial.
Personally, I find this set of words (artificial, unnatural, etc) to have way, way too much baggage, so I prefer to just define them as nonsensical (i.e. it's impossible to do anything unnatural) rather than assume that they are useful tools for communication like other words (since most people will have varying definitions of what is unnatural, which aren't rationally guessable).
Holding this line of thought also allows to instantly come across as an annoying smart-arse in parties (and online too, I suppose).
Here is a great article with more details :)
There is an amazing amount of wildlife in a wasp pollinated fig. If you break one open, all sorts of interesting stuff crawls out, not just immature wasps, but also a lot of organisms that prey on the wasps.
err, that's what I was most interested in... I've eaten an entire pack of fig newtons in one sitting.
Glad I don't like fig newtons. :)
Tastes like ... victory.
When I pick them, I go in a T-shirt and shorts. Yes, the leaves are sticky - but not irritating in the slightest. It's usually a warm humid day anyway, so a cold shower is very refreshing.
And as for the figs: infinitely more delicious than anything from grocery stores. Messy to eat? Less messy than an apple.
I think we must be referring to different types of trees...
1.) Wasps as man's greatest enemy? Really?
If we were being poetic, here, then I'd say that Man's greatest enemy is Man themselves, but this is HN, so I won't. For a runner up, I would at least choose an animal that can actually kill a healthy human, rather than one that and annoy a healthy human and kill a subset with allergic reactions of venom.
2.) There are a lot of species of wasp. According to wikipedia, 160,000. Not all of them will sting, or even can sting humans. Fig wasps count among them. There are quite a few wasps that are beneficial, in that they predate upon insects that are slightly more annoying than the wasps themselves.
3.) Nectar is produced (generally) by flowers, to attract pollinators. By design, it's easily accessible by insects, and not protected by the rind of a fruit. The juice of a fruit is just juice, not nectar.
How about one that kills one to three million humans, mostly very young children, every year? The mosquito is man's greatest animal enemy. Actually, I think it's safe to say that mosquito is a worse enemy to man than man himself, since mosquito-borne malaria has been responsible for many more deaths than all the wars in history.
Big predators, on the other hand, like bears or lions, which are physically capable of killing a human single-handedly, are responsible for so few human deaths as to be lost in statistical noise.
Anyway, I like your analogy as an answer to the mosquito vs. malaria blame game, but it may be impossible to directly compare a mosquito-inflicted death to one caused by a human in any fashion.
In short, blame is irrelevant...human rights trump mosquito (or malaria) rights, IMNSHO, so if we could somehow destroy mosquitoes (and/or malaria) entirely in the sub-Saharan region, that'd be entirely alright with me, to hell with the consequences (some argue it would impact other wildlife, as mosquitoes are a food source for birds, as well as a pollinator for some plants, and those birds and plants are a food source for bigger animals, etc.).
It is better to link to the original article. It has some photos and videos of the figs.
Okay, take about 8 of them.
And take 8 strips of thick-cut, maple-smoked, peppered organic bacon, the best you can find.
Wrap the fig in the bacon, secure with a toothpick, and place on a pan.
Roast at 425F for about 25 minutes, checking after about 15 minutes.
I assure you, you will not be disappointed.
If you move into a house (purchase/rent/otherwise) with a fig tree and plan to relandscape. Be very careful. Fig tree roots run very shallow, and even older trees are susceptible to damage to the roots.
I found out the hard way - rototilling an overgrown back yard due to too much grass, weeds, bulbs, etc. The 'till chomped through two or three large surface roots (< 8" deep which were more than 4 feet from the tree). The result - one dead 20+ y/o fig tree.
Be careful when gardening/redoing a yard.
(Re: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1685161 if you hadn't seen.)
I don't quite feel pigbucket's hate. :)
I don't think this makes figs unvegan though. At least, eating figs is just as vegan as building a house out of limestone.
Systems biology looks like progress.
My, they sure are delicious fruits.
(bugs? well, ok. Wasps? No thanks)
Although now that I read the wasps are digested by the fig, they seem more palatable again.
It is awe inspiring design isn't it.
no i think it took way longer than that. maybe even tens!