Food to Feed a Village
How Jackfruit Could Save the World
The first time I saw this fruit, I wondered how hard it would be to hack it open and how it tastes. It's called jackfruit, and it's big! It is native to India and is related to figs. It's about the size of a human head, with a more oval shape. It has dull spikes all over its surface. Due to its size (up to 80 lbs!!) and high nutritional value, it has been called "the fruit that could eliminate world hunger." The seeds and flesh inside are edible. The three best nutritional qualities that stood out to me were the potassium (739 mg), vitamin C (37 percent) and B6 (25 percent) per serving, which is one cup of sliced fruit/seeds. There are 31g of sugar, but that is raw, plant based sugar, which is a lot healthier than processed sugar.
I have yet to buy one. Pre-recipe prep certainly looks like a day-long project. I will likely try it. I have bought pre-prepped jackfruit at Ralphs a couple of times. It is still relatively unknown to many Americans and I have already found myself explaining it to others. It's greenish in color and has dull, blunted spikes. It has some good weight to it and requires me to use two hands to carry it. The inside is tender and resembles pulled pork. The pre-prepped, packaged jack fruit I purchased had a bbq flavoring to it. I stir fried it with vegetables. The flavoring wasn't my favorite, but the texture was decent. It can also be used in a sandwich, like a sloppy Joe. As I looked at a list of its extensive nutritional content, I wondered why it hasn't gained more popularity. Why isn't it being called a super fruit? Does Oprah know?
In college, I wrote a three minute speech about people living in extreme poverty in Guatemala. I had watched a documentary on Netflix called Living on One Dollar. It was depressing to watch, but it was very educational. I know that other countries besides Guatemala suffer from moderate to extreme poverty. The people living in poverty have on average $1 per day to buy food and supplies to live. Too many people suffer from a lack of resources and reliable tools. I wish I could do more to help. I know jack fruit would help significantly. Unfortunately, I don't have the budget to go to Guatemala or any other country suffering from poverty and hunger and give them a bunch of this nutritious fruit. Asia also has many chronically undernourished people who would benefit from food like jackfruit. One mature jackfruit tree could produce up to 200 fruits every year. One meal each day consisting of jackfruit could drastically reduce malnutrition.
It could also help people in America as well. People eating a standard American diet don't get proper nutrition, even though they eat enough food. It's possible to eat too much food and still be malnourished. The more processed food is, the less nutrition it contains, naturally. Eating nutritionally devoid food is just as bad for overall health as eating too much bad food. Replacing at least some bad food with nutrient dense food like jack fruit would help boost health and reduce simple problems. Proper nutrition would help minimize many illnesses, as the Britannica link below explains. Eating enough of all the necessary vitamins and minerals on a healthy, plant based diet cuts the risk of disease by up to 90 percent.
The wood of the jackfruit tree is also high quality and can be used to build furniture. Supposedly, it can rival teak wood. So, after a few years of producing fruits, it can be used for furniture. Along with hemp (which can produce more paper than trees in about half the time and half the space), this fruit would save the world.
With such good, healthy food... I wonder why malnutrition and hunger even exist.