It pays to be frugal with fruit

Bigstock Tropical Fruits Resized

Fruit is healthy, but here’s why it’s also smart to limit the amount we eat.

The trouble is that we humans keep tampering with it.

Last month it was reported that a research team from Griffith Uni has been at work transforming the humble pawpaw (or papaya).

They’re creating new varieties that will have a ‘more competitive’ flavour. Translated, that means making it sweeter.

Great colour, but if it just didn’t taste like pawpaw it’d sell more.

Like so many things, it boils down to money. The mango industry is worth $180 million, while pawpaws are worth $37 million, and pawpaw growers would like to catch up.

In addition, pawpaw trees inconvenience everyone by growing their fruit at the top of the tree where it’s harder to pick. No problem, the researchers are also creating a tree that will grow the fruit lower down.

That’s all understandable on one level, and no one would deny pawpaw farmers an income.

But at the same time, not all fruit was designed to be equally sweet. Humans are meant to have a broad palate that includes the natural astringency of fruit such as pawpaw.

Although bitter and sour are as much a part of human taste as sweet and salty, we seem to be steering everything possible towards sweet or salty.

Last year the head vet at the Melbourne Zoo explained that the staff there had stopped feeding fruit to the animals because selective breeding has increased the sugar content so much. The animals were getting fat and losing their teeth.

I know, monkeys not eating bananas? What’s the world coming to?

Eating fruit is still a long way from drinking soft drink or yes, fruit juice. But at a time when we’ve managed to manipulate everything inconvenient — from seeds to sourness — out of our fruit, we need to be moderate in the amount we eat.

At the zoo they’ve replaced much of the fruit with leafy greens, and the head vet says he’s also increased the leafy greens in his own diet.

That’s a good move for us too.

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