Hot nutrition trend for 2009 -- the baobab?
What makes a fruit a superfruit? We earlier listed the ideal traits -- a superfruit should have a hard-to-pronounce name, be unfamiliar to Westerners, come from far, far away and have been used in native medicine. It should also be expensive. We noted the emergence of an upstart fruit from the baobab tree, which has got to be one of the most preposterous-looking trees we have ever seen.
Now the baobab is poised to catapult to stardom according to an article at foodnavigator.com. The article quotes the market research firm Mintel as saying: "Each year, there's one hot new superfruit and this year, exotic baobab seems to be the one." Baobab fruit is available in the European Union and its marketers are seeking "generally recognised as safe" status from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
We're all in favor of the baobab -- we admit it, entirely because of its looks. (Yes, yes, its fruit contains vitamin C, riboflavin and niacin -- but really, what fruit doesn't?)
Mintel also says in the article that quinoa will have a good year in 2009, partly because "consumers are intrigued by its status as an ancient grain." The sweetener stevia may do well because of an ongoing interest in natural ingredients.
OK, so the 2009 superfruit spot may be sewn up. But what comes after that? Me, I'm rooting for Hydnora africana. Everything about it shrieks exotic: It's a plant parasite, it looks like a huge, toothy mouth, it emits a characteristic odor to attract dung beetles and carrion beetles, and jackals eat it. I'm sure it must have a fruit. And I am sure that it is brimming with antioxidants.
-- Rosie Mestel
Photo: Baobab trees, as depicted in the animated feature "Madagascar." Photo credit: DreamWorks Animation SKG