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Surprising Science

Breadfruit: Miracle Food from the Future

The breadfruit is football-sized prickly fruit full of nutrients and energy. It grows on one of the world’s highest-yielding trees and backers say it could help alleviate world hunger. 

What’s the Latest Development?

Breadfruit, a football-sized prickly fruit native to Pacific islands, is a staple of people’s diets from Africa to the Caribbean. Now, some horticulturalists want to promote it as a solution to the world’s food security problems. But persuading newcomers to eat the fruit has proven to be a challenge because its starchy quality gives the fruit a very bland taste. This month, the Breadfruit Institute is organizing a cooking competition in Captain Cook, Hawaii where chefs will find new ways to boil, mash, steam, roast, pickle and ferment the fruit.

What’s the Big Idea?

The breadfruit has unique qualities that make it well-suited to feeding large populations. “One tree, a member of the fig family, can produce 450 pounds of fruit per season. The fruit packs 121 calories in a half-cup serving and is rich in fiber, potassium, phosphorous, calcium, copper and other nutrients. Its texture and yeasty odor remind some people of fresh bread.” The plan to promote breadfruit has attracted eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, a Hawaiian resident, who has organized a team of experts to encourage its growth. 


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