The Miracle Berry

A couple of years ago I was watching either Bourdain or Zimmern as they trekked across the world eating strange things.  I like these shows, and like to see what kinds of things they are eating that I am familiar with (I have a eclectic palate, and am known to eat just about anything…at least once).

On one show they were in Africa, and they were discussing something called “The Miracle Berry”.  What it does is trick your brain into thinking that sour items are sweet.  Immediately, I saw the diet potential for it and wondered what it would take to get some of this fruit.

At that time, there was little marketing for it so I gave up my search.  But I knew that once an entrepreneur saw the same potential I did, and had the capital to see it through, the berry would hit the news.

And now it has:

LONG BEACH, California — Is a little red berry from West Africa the solution to world famine and hunger?Chicago chef Homaro Cantu thinks it might be. Cantu, executive chef at Moto restaurant in the Windy City and his new venue iNG, told the TED audience on Tuesday that miracle berries could help feed people in famine-stricken regions by turning what would normally be inedible ingredients — such as wild and bitter grasses — into palatable food.

Miracle berries were discovered in 1725 in West Africa among a tribe that was found fermenting wild plants and eating them after consuming the berries. The berries, which look like cranberries, contain a glycoprotein, called miraculin, that binds to the sour and bitter receptors in the mouth preventing these flavors from being tasted and tricking the mind into thinking food that’s being ingested — such as a lemon — is sweet. This would allow people in famine-stricken regions, Cantu says, to feed on available wild and bitter grasses, increasing their food supply.

Cantu, executive pastry chef Ben Roche and their team have used miracle berries with cactus and even straw to pleasant effect. Kentucky bluegrass tastes like tarragon, Cantu says, after eating the berries. The effect lasts 45 minutes to an hour, but can dissipate more quickly by drinking a glass of warm water.

“The key thing here is tricking your taste buds. Now your brain is telling you that all of this is not just food, but delicious food,” Cantu says.

The berries have other benefits, too. They can also be used as a safe food sweetener for diabetics or simply for people trying to reduce their sugar use. Cantu says he feeds his two young daughters waffles with syrup made from corn starch, water and lemon juice. Cooked in the microwave, the concoction has the same viscosity as syrup, and becomes sweet if eaten after consuming the miracle berry or berry tablets.

”The kids, they don’t know the difference, but it’s basically maple syrup,” he says. “That’s just one example. You take lemon juice, squeeze it into soda water and now you have the world’s tastiest Sprite. You’re not going to eliminate the demand for sweet things … what we can do is give people something else that’s better for them.”

Cantu and his team have also successfully experimented with the berry to eliminate the metallic flavor that chemotherapy patients taste in food. As a result, they’re able to enjoy food and gain much-needed weight.

“It works 100 percent of the time, and there are no complications with pharmaceutical products,” Cantu told Wired.com after his talk. “We haven’t seen any side effects. That’s just huge.”

Read more at the source

The story goes on to talk about chemo patients, and how the Miracle Berry can be used to restore the taste buds (chemo is known to make everything taste metallic).  The interesting thing is, the Miracle Berry does not act normally in a chemo patient.  Instead of making sour things sweet, it just removes the metallic taste and allows them to taste food just like they did before the chemo started.  For those of us who have had loved with ill with cancer, the benefits of being able to eat are obvious.

I hope to see this product make it to market.

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One Response to “The Miracle Berry”

  1. Reveille Says:

    Wow! I hope to see it in the market place soon too.

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