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An unusual crop that was once a staple across the tropics seems to be making a comeback. Starchy and packed with nutrients, breadfruit isn’t a typical fruit. And while this cousin of the mulberry may not be at the top of anyone’s dream menu, it could be the key to food security in part of the world.

That’s because breadfruit is high in complex carbohydrates (the kind that are good for you), protein, and micronutrients like iron and zinc. And compared to white rice and potatoes, breadfruit scores lower on the glycemic index, so it won’t shock your blood sugar. That’s good news for the Pacific Islands where diabetes rates are soaring, largely due to the influx of imported processed foods.

There are also non-nutritional advantages. The hardy tree is low maintenance and doesn’t require agrochemicals, so breadfruit is organic. And it’s fairly efficient. “It yields a lot of food for the amount of space it takes up, which is important on islands with limited space,” says Diane Ragone, Director of the Hawaii-based Breadfruit Institute.

Sounds great, right? Read on to discover the real social and historical complexities of eating bread with The Plate.

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