Breadfruit! The wonder food you have probably never heard of!
You may have seen it in supermarkets, but you most probably have never reached for it. But that is understandable. Breadfruit does not look very attractive, and not much is known about it in general. Lately, however, interest in this fruit has been growing. The reason is that it is a source of both carbohydrate and protein,and is an extremely rich in vitamins. The protein in breadfruit has more amino acids in proportion than soy, and the carbohydrate is gluten-free. This makes it an excellent food source.
Breadfruit is a native of Polynesia and is widely eaten there. It has lumpy green flesh the texture of which is like that of potatoes. Bread fruit trees do not need much attention and are easily grown in the tropics.Hence it is cheap to produce. More breadfruit is grown per hectare than rice, wheat or corn. One breadfruit weighing around seven pounds (3 kg) provides enough carbohydrate for a meal for a family of five. Breadfruits are so called for as they are rich in carbohydrate and fiber. Also, when the fruit is just ripe it has a bread like taste, starchy and dry. At a greater state of ripeness, it is sweet and moist.
In the 18th century, it was introduced in the Caribbean Islands where it was used as a staple food for slaves, particularly in Jamaica, where 2000 of the plants was brought in 1792 by the ill-famed Captain Bligh. Of those 678 bore fruit. However, it was not well liked and it took almost 50 years to be accepted. It is now being thought to be a source for food security on the island, which imports more than half its food.Research is being carried out to find strains of the plant which can grow in more saline soil, and are more resistant to disease, as it is hoped that they can be grown natively in sufficient quantities.
Dr. Diane Ragone of Hawaii’s National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG) has been conducting research on breadfruit since 1980, and has studied hundreds of strains from many countries. In 2003, she created the Breadfruit Institute. She also started a breadfruit orchard for the institute on Maui. At this institute, scientists are working with the charity Alliance To End Hunger, with the objective of taking breadfruit to places over the world that do not have a proper food source. To that end they are trying to develop specific strains to suit a wide range of climates and environments and resistance to diseaseas well as varying tastes. Basically breadfruit tastes bland and starchy. They are also obviously trying to find strains that have the best yield and contains the most protein.
Scientists have managed to grow trees that are disease-free and start producing fruit in two years. From the varieties of strains they have grown, they have sent 35,000 trees to 26 countries, which include Jamaica and Haiti.
Breadfruit can be prepared for eating in a variety of ways. NTBG says that the mature fruit can be used as a healthy substitute for rice or potatoes after boiling, steaming or baking. The ripe fruit has a creamy taste and can be used to bake cakes or pies, and can even be eaten raw. It can be used to make pancakes, ground into flour, and under development are breadfruit crisps and pasta, as those can be easily stored.Watch the video to find out it is cooked over an open fire in Tahiti.
Breadfruit is a food, which is complete in all aspects, and can be a source of healthy food for the whole world and particularly in places where the normal diet is poor in nutrition. It has more nutrition than most other food, and in that respect it is indeed a ‘wonder’ food.