Miracle Fruit: The Untold Story

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[photo courtesy of the Henkel Family]

You may have seen New Times' recent piece about the Florida man who grows Miracle Fruit here. But there's more to this scintillating story than limes that taste like sugarplums (and girls who suddenly can't get enough of their boyfriends' junk). Turns out there's a backstory to the bodacious berry full of nefariousness and intrigue. The FDA banned miracle fruit in the '60s under pressure from the sugar industry, which didn't care to contemplate an alternative sweetener with so much marketable potential. The tale includes industrial spies, car chases, and clandestine midnight break-ins. Using "miraculin," the chemical in the fruit that turns everything yummy, as a sweetener is still technically illegal in the U.S., believe it or not. Watch the video here or read the interesting transcript of Democracy Now's conversation with author Adam Leith Gollner.

[Ed note: 7/21/08. I've started reading Gollner's book, The Fruit Hunters, and it's fascinating. There's a particularly interesting and relevant chapter about the Rare Fruit Council International at Fairchild Tropical Garden in Miami, where Gollner talks at length to senior curator Richard J. Campbell. Think it sounds dry? This book is as juicy as the "billiard ball sized blackberries" that grow in Latin America. Highly recommended.

--Gail Shepherd


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