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The Economic Case for Loving This Spiky, Tropical Fruit

The underrated breadfruit holds big promise for independent farmers and small business owners in the Caribbean

Original image by Hans Hillewaert via Wikimedia Commons

A while back, I first wrote about the spiky, green football that is the breadfruit. It was perhaps the most enthusiastic endorsement of a piece of fruit I’ll ever pen in my life. Several groups had been promoting the low-maintenance, bountiful, and nutritious produce as a partial solution to hunger in the world’s poor, rural, and growing tropics. Unfortunately, breadfruit carried a reputation for blandness, and getting new groups to adopt it had been a challenge. But that initial blandness also makes breadfruit an excellent blank slate as it can be adapted into a variety of different foods. I suggested that once the fruit’s modern culinary potential had been further explored, some organizations would start to work beyond breadfruit’s basic ability to feed the hungry. By finding new ways to preserve, package, and sell this fertile, yet highly perishable produce, an emerging breadfruit industry could create new jobs and businesses around the world.

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Can a Miracle Fruit Overcome its Unsavory Reputation?

Conservationists, farmers, and nutritionists are singing the praises of the breadfruit. If only it didn't taste so bad.

Last month, Dr. Diane Ragone of the Hawaiian branch of the National Tropical Botanical Garden showed up in Samoa with a $12,240 check for their Ministry of Agriculture. Though it wasn’t a mind-boggling sum, Ragone was greeted with great fanfare; this was the first major step in a bid to revolutionize the world with an unassuming Samoan product: the breadfruit.

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