Amid Climate Change, This Fruit May Get Its Moment

Nutrient-dense and plentiful, breadfruit could be the crop of the future
By Gina Carey,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 7, 2024 11:50 AM CDT
Will Breadfruit Be the Next Food Trend?
Breadfruits are shown during the immature stage at Noho'ana Farm in Waikapu, Hawaii.   (AP Photo/Mengshin Lin)

Breadfruit is hardly a staple of the American diet, but aficionado Zoë Schlanger at the Atlantic wonders if that will change soon enough. The trees grow in tropical climates with lots of rain, but climate change is shifting where they can be planted. Until recently, the only place on the continental US they were successfully grown was the Florida Keys, but warming weather patterns are changing that. Here's why the tree and its versatile crop could become the next trendy thing on the menu:

  • They grow quickly: Breadfruit trees grow fast (up to 20 feet in their first three years), and fruit within their first year. They yield between 200 and 400 basketball-sized fruits annually, per the BBC, producing a vast amount of food on very little acreage.

  • They're nutrient dense: A serving of breadfruit gives a lot of bang for its buck. It contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a good source of protein. Breadfruit is also rich in fiber and various vitamins and minerals like calcium, iron, and potassium. And according to Forbes, one fruit can provide the carbohydrate intake for a full family.
  • They can withstand extreme weather: While their growing conditions must be tropical, breadfruit trees are hardy once established. Florida grower Patrick Garvey noted that after 2017's Hurricane Irma, all his fruit trees were demolished from the influx of salt water, except for his single breadfruit tree, which was back in action 18 months later. Impressed by its resiliency, he switched gears and is growing a grove of them.
  • They're quite yummy: Breadfruit is versatile in the kitchen—fried into fritters, roasted, ground into flour, or used as a custard when it's ripest. If its monicker, derived from its chewiness, isn't exactly enticing, read these musings from Schlanger: "(My friend) would pound garlic and oil with oregano brujo, a pungent weedy plant in the mint family, and spoon the sauce over the frittered discs. For me, little in this world is above a breadfruit tostón, crisp and flaky on the outside, creamy on the inside. My mouth is watering writing this paragraph."
(More stories about climate change.)

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