The thought of a bread-flavored fruit may sound a bit far-fetched, but in the world's tropical regions, this starchy crop is a staple. Breadfruit, a prickly oval-shaped fruit grown from Southeast Asia to Hawaii (also known there as 'ulu), does in fact taste like a mix between freshly baked bread, plantains and potatoes.
But breadfruit's superpowers go well beyond flavor. This fruit — a relative of the increasingly popular jackfruit — is a promising solution to food insecurity, particularly in tropical places where breadfruit trees thrive with little care. One breadfruit alone weighs around 7 pounds (3.1 kilograms) — sometimes up to 12 pounds (5.4 kilograms) — and contains enough carbohydrates for one meal for a family of five, according to Global Mana.
The breadfruit tree (Artocarpus altilis) is considered one of the highest yielding food plants on the planet; one can produce 50 to 150 fruits per year and sustain a family of four for decades.
According to Diane Ragone, director of Hawaii-based National Tropical Botanic Garden's (NTBG) Breadfruit Institute, breadfruit is also a highly sustainable crop. "It has long been an important subsistence crop for many tropical communities," Ragone says via email. "Over the past decade, farmers and families have begun planting more breadfruit trees for local food and economic security. Another factor is the critical need to adopt and expand sustainable, regenerative agriculture cropping systems for the health and well-being of people and the planet."