Breadfruit trees decorate many roadsides of the country and parts of the coast in and around Barbados. Although it’s a fruit, like its name says it’s bready in texture and makes a healthy, wholesome staple that’s so versatile it could be added to most menus on any given day.
Otherwise known as ‘Ulu in Hawai’i or “Artocarpus Altilis (Communis)”, a ready-to-eat breadfruit is about the size of a football, heavy like a boulder with the pulp having texture of something like eddoes (taro), english potato and freshly-baked bread. Apparently it was brought to the island in the 1700s. The leaves are lush, beautiful and similar in size and design to paw paw (papaya) and monstera leaves.
You can feed and fill a few people with one breadfruit.
You can roast breadfruit on an open wood fire jusso, crack it open, make a sauce and use it like an edible bowl or boil the “bread’ inside then pickle it like how I did in the pic coming up, boil and mash it as breadfruit cou-cou or fufu, make gluten-free flour with it, slice and fry in oil as chips and probably a few other ways I might be missing out. Ask most people in Bim about a ‘yella-meat * breadfruit’ and you’ll probably see eyes light up like stars on a moonlit night. (*yellow-meat)
Recently (it’s March 2022 now), there’s been a public pitch asking people to sell their breadfruits – for a dollar. Let’s let that marinate for a second. It doesn’t matter what currency they’re offering – a breadfruit is worth much more than a coin that can’t even jingle in a pocket. To put some perspective on it, you can buy 4 (sometimes 3) brown mints or a half a handful of ground spice or for Bds.$1. – that’s how far that amount goes, and on the streets it’s USD.$1. to Bds.$2. A good sized breadfruit in a local market is about Bds.$5. (although someone in the countryside is usually willing to let you pick a couple off their tree if you ask nicely. They might even do it for you.)
Gold for stones?
While shelves can go bare, trees can still bear.
When people are being bamboozled, treated like they have the brains of a small pigeon or invited to play hop skotch right in front a mud puddle or ditch it’s more than upsetting and heartbreaking when it seems they just might – in trying times, contemplate walking into a trap that will affect the mouths of many down the line.
Here’s my plea:
People of Barbados, please do not jump on that bandwagon and sell wunna breadfruits for $1. each – and most certainly not in these times, Food from the trees, plants, bushes and earth are where the first super market is. When they crying ‘food shortage’ and your favourite fast (junk) food place runs out or locks down, what then? Next up could be a call for all the mangoes (forsooth!) or moringa – the almost forgotten, now recently remembered tree and herb in the land.
It’s good to share. This isn’t about being stingy but about being prudent and considering with meticulous care what the coming generation will have available (without unsustainable burden of importation) for healthy food.
It’s one thing to visit another island or country and enjoy whatever grows naturally and well there, and another to want to get all of what they have over there and bring it wherever we are so it’s now ours. If they suddenly want it back, they can buy it from us. And if you’ve ever heard of, read about or experienced what duty fees are like in Barbados you don’t even want to begin to know what it would cost to get it back here.
Another thing: breadfruit trees are not always in someone’s yard or as they like to say now – someone’s ‘curtilage,’ which means many trees in the public domain will be up for grabs and have their fruit lick down, bagged, boxed and shipped to wherever.
Don’t give up the fruits of the land for a silver dollar or wait til someone else researches the health benefits of what generations have been eating, to then find value in it. Speaking of nutrition, here are some benefits:
HEALTH benefits of Breadfruit
- the fiber in breadfruit helps with insulin levels – with the high rate of diabetes in Barbados, this is extremely important.
- good for heart health and high in potassium
- high in Vitamin C and iron, so fabulous for the hair growth and skin-care
- helps fight infections
- energy: 1 cup breadfruit = 60 grams of carbs
- contains Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids
- breadfruit juice is good for a vibrant skin tone and the production of collagen
- part of the breadfruit tree can be used to alleviate skin inflammation and eczema
Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor or nutritionist. Ask a Caribbean grandparent or a food scientist, read a book or check online. Somebody’s granny probably uses the leaves for something or another. Don’t quote me on that, ask her or grandad and please let me know if you find out any other benefits.
Have you ever used one of those twice-the-length of javelin poles with de hook at the end to convince a breadfruit to come off the tree and fall safely without squashing everybody in sight, or ever witnessed someone shimmying up a narrow and high tree risking life and limb to pick either them or coconuts? None of us would have the gumption to offer them a silver dollar to do that. It’s a privilege people even do that to sell to the vendors in the market and gift to people in their community or driving through the area asking for one or two to roast by the beach.
Ever seen how much imported berries that last mere days cost in Bim? (Between Bds.$10. – $15. and they have the shelf life of a sno-cone in 1 o’clock sun.) Eat what you have especially when it’s right there for the pickings. On that note, here’s some pickled breadfruit.
Breadfruit is so versatile – so filling, wholesome and healthy and they take effort, skill and personal risk to pick. Don’t give up on real food that grows, for fake food with GMOs. A local bakery is about to close down because of a recent shortage in wheat and that’s only the start of it. While wheat can cause a shopping list of health challenges, breadfruit grows freely here and flour can be made from it. What next – de mangoes, soursop, paw paw, sea grapes and eddoes? Who knows how much we and the coming generation will need access to healthy wholesome fruits, herbs, vegetables and provisions that naturally grow in the land where you live.
Food security and sustainability?
How secure are the fruits and food of the land really? And how yuh gine store or sustain someting ya does gi ‘way?
Preserve the breadfruits and make good use of them. We use it for food but the leaves (and probably bark too) can be used for so much more. Do you really think the pitching brokers and importers haven’t thoroughly researched this multi-purpose likely-to-soon-be-labelled a “superfood” that grows in abundance on trees in Bim?
Have we maximized the possibilities with the tree, leaves, fruit, flower and maybe a sap somewhere? When you slice a breadfruit, like green banana it can leave the knife sticky…like a natural glue maybe? Who knows…who wants to know?
Breadfruits are worth much more than 3 to 4 mints that last a few minutes. (And anyone who knows me knows I like brown mints!)
Preserve The Breadfruits In Barbados | A Plea To The People | Fruits Of The Land | Health Benefits Galore was first published on itsjoywithin.com
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