Apr 25, 2012

Breadfruit Trees are 'Trees That Feed' and Create Jobs in Jamaica

© Ramon Gonzalez

Today Mary McLaughlin works and lives in Winnetka, Illinois, but she grew up in Spanish Town the capital of St. Catherine in the county of Middlesex, Jamaica. As a child, her family’s carbohydrate needs were served by a single breadfruit tree growing in their yard.

One day while pondering the issue of food security she had a revelation. If she could plant massive amounts of breadfruit trees in her home country not only would it benefit the environment, but the trees would create micro-economies, combat hunger and lessen the need for expensive imported grains.

The breadfruit, Artocarpus altilis, is a species of flowering tree in the mulberry family. “It tastes like bread,” she explained with a wry smile when I asked her a couple of years ago what breadfruit tasted like. This exotic fruit-which to me look like the dragon eggs on HBO’s "Game of Thrones"-is very versatile. It's commonly referred to as “loaves of bread on trees.”

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