Miracle Fruit Revolution

I am really loving 'Future Food' on Planet Green (10PM:EST/Tuesdays).  On each half hour episode, Chef Homaro Cantu and his chefs use modern cookery techniques to recycle abused product, creating fish dishes without using fish, and, on the most recent episode, solving world hunger.

How would the Moto team solve world hunger?   Their answer begins with a peculiar fruit called "Miracle Fruit".  Miracle Fruit contains a taste chemical called... wait for it... Miraculin.   Miraculin is a taste modifier.  You put it on your tongue and sour/bitter flavors become sweeter.  There are a handful of taste modifiers out there, but miracle fruit is the easiest to come by.

At first glance, it is easy to dismiss the idea that the power to make unappealing flavors delicious.  After all, if you are starving, does flavor play a huge role in what you eat?  I don't know.  I also don't know how nutritious crab apples and various weeds are.  But I do think there are a number of obvious places where Miracle Fruit can help us be more healthy:

1. Reducing sugar/artificial sweetener consumption.

The Pros:  High sugar diets are associated with both obesity and diabetes.  Miraculin might help us with both of these dangerous conditions.   And if you already have diabetes, you can enjoy the taste of sweet without the risk of death!  Also, We replaced sugar with High Fructose Corn Syrup, Sweet N' Low, Nutrasweet and Splenda.  Which many people on the Internet think should be called Creeping Fucking Death, Cancer Classic, Cancer New and Cancer Turbo Pro Gold 2000.  Since Miraculin comes from a fruit, this might be less controversial. How awesome would it be if we could make foods sweeter without increasing the risk of death!  It's like the condom/birth control pill of sweeteners!  Food orgies, here we come!

The Cons: Given our track record of replacing sugar with something just as bad, we run the risk that somehow Miraculin will be toxic.  My bet is that we develop bifurcated tongues.

2. Finally, your children will eat their vegetables.

The Pros: If your children don't like a given vegetable au natural, dose them with some Miraculin, and try again!

The Cons: Your children will grow vulnerable to sour and bitter tastes.  When they are Miraculin deprived, they may taste a grapefruit and die.

3. There is no 3.

The Pros: I never really liked 3.

The Cons: I can't continue this list because of the rift in the base 10 positional system.

In all seriousness, this could actually make people's lives better.  But, it may be expensive or impractical to manufacture and distribute, much in the way food can be today.  Oh, also, it is really worth noting that Bob Harvey and  Don Emery once tried to start a sweetener company, called Miralin, to focus on providing a sweetener for diabetics.  Of course, investors wanted to destroy Sugar.  Obviously, this threatened the Sugarati.  And like anything, if you rage against the cotton candy machine, the cotton candy machine with chew you up and spin you out.  (Ω)

A good recap of the story can be found here, but here is the money shot:

Finally, at the end of that summer, Harvey and Emery arrived back at the office after dinner to find they were being burgled. The burglars escaped and were never found, but the main FDA file was left lying open on the floor.

A few weeks later the FDA, which had previously been very supportive, wrote to Miralin, effectively banning its product. No co-incidence, according to Don Emery.

(Ω) Can I just take a moment to say how happy I am that I started a graf with "In all seriousness" and ended it in Rage Against The Cotton Candy Machine?  Thank you!


  1. To bad there is not enough Miracle Fruit in the world to ever support a big demand. They take 4 years to give fruits and you can find them only in Phillipines, Ghana, Cameroon and Florida...

    But the THought was nice :-)



  2. As I said, it is easy to dismiss the idea. I don't think taste is the primary factor for why people starve. The logistics behind cultivation and distribution are would be a huge challenge, even if it worked.


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