The Fruit that Could Save the World

Can bread really grow on trees? This episode, meet the all-star, super productive, low-maintenance, gluten-free carbohydrate of the future. Did we mention it's also delicious? How can one fruit—that's also a vegetable and a staple starch—become chips, crackers, and cheesecake, while also serving as the perfect platform for sour cream and cheese when baked like a potato? And, if it's so great, why in the world did the mutineers on HMS Bounty throw its seedlings overboard? Today, believers say this one tree could be a potential solution to climate change, deforestation, food insecurity, and world hunger. Join us as we taste this wonder fruit for ourselves, and find out whether the hype is real. Can breadfruit really help save the world?

Breadfruit growing on Scott Fisher's 'ulu farm in Waikapū. (Photo by Nicola Twilley)

Episode Notes

Mike Opgenorth

Mike Opgenorth is the director of Kahanu Garden and Preserve in Hana, Hawai'i, part of the National Tropical Botanical Garden. Kahanu's breadfruit collection is the largest in the world, with more than 150 varieties from 18 different Pacific islands.

Diane Ragone

Diane Ragone is the director emeritus of The Breadfruit Institute, part of the National Tropical Botanical Garden, which protects breadfruit diversity by collecting and preserving breadfruit varieties and distributes the plant for reforestation and hunger remediation around the world. For those living in the right climate or lucky enough to get their hands on this tropical treasure, the Institute has a guide to cultivating and cooking breadfruit on their website.

Left, towering breadfruit trees at Kahanu Gardens; right, Mike Opgenorth shows us how to cook breadfruit in an Instant Pot. (Photos by Cynthia Graber)

Scott Fisher

Scott Fisher is the director of ʻāina (land) stewardship for the Hawai'i Land Trust, where he leads the Trust's ecological stewardship actions. He is also a newbie breadfruit farmer, and took us on a tour of his orchard when we visited Maui.

Noa Kekuewa Lincoln

Noa Kekuewa Lincoln is an assistant professor at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, where he specializes in Indigenous crops and agricultural systems, including breadfruit growing and production. One of his projects includes reestablishing the Hawaiian breadfruit belt, Kaluʻulu, starting at Māla Kalu’ulu Farm.

A sliced-open breadfruit beside the remnants of our amazing meal with Sheldon. (Photo by Nicola Twilley)

Sheldon Simeon

While in Maui, we visited both of chef Sheldon Simeon's restaurants: Tin Roof and the newly-reopened Tiffany's, where Sheldon prepared a delicious set of dishes for us to display breadfruit's flavor and versatility. Simeon has been nominated for multiple James Beard awards, including a 2022 nomination for Best Chef. He was a contestant on the show Top Chef and is the author of Cook Real Hawai'i: A Cookbook.

Maui Breadfruit Company's Pono Pies

If you're on the Hawaiian islands and in need of a sweet snack, might we recommend the Pono Pies from Maui Breadfruit Company? These cheesecake-y, pudding-y pies were so good that we ate multiple in a rowbe sure to try the sweet potato flavor!

More Breadfruit from Eater

We know our descriptions of breadfruit chips and pies left your mouth watering. If you're lucky enough to get your hands on some breadfruit and want to try cooking it yourself, our producer Claudia created a guide for preparing breadfruit for our partners at Eater: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Breadfruit!


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