Interest in pawpaws is increasing as climate change looms –

by | Jun 13, 2022 | Climate Change

North Carolina isn’t known for its tropical fruits. Neither is Missouri, West Virginia or southern Ontario, for that matter.But likely unbeknownst to most Americans (and Canadians), the largest edible fruit tree native to North America grows in most states east of the Mississippi. And the taste of its fruit, which is full of healthy goodies like antioxidants, has been compared to a cross between a mango and a banana.So why aren’t pawpaw fruit and products overflowing at supermarkets and health food stores?That’s complicated, experts say. But with climate change expected to bring new challenges to the world’s food supplies and supply chain issues already playing havoc with global trade, looking local is increasingly seen as a safe, viable and smart option for protecting and increasing food supplies.But making pawpaw a staple in the American diet could be difficult.Dr. Mike Parker, a tree fruit specialist with N.C. State University, said besides convincing those who might find the pawpaw’s texture and taste difficult to stomach, there’s a more basic issue.“The problem is getting trees into production and getting the fruit to market,” he said. “Quite frankly, they rot too quickly.”That doesn’t mean, though, that some local communities haven’t already discovered and embraced the humble pawpaw. That can be seen in the fruit’s long list of local nicknames  — Quaker delight, American custard apple, hillbilly mango and, now that it’s got a growing “cool” reputation, hipster banana.CLEAN AIR CONUNDRUM:Coastal areas love their clean air. A new study finds that hurricanes do, too”It’s just so different,” said Derek Morris, a horticulture technician with the N.C. Cooperative Extension in Forsyth County who has helped organize the annual N.C. Pawpaw Festival in Winston-Salem for the past 15 years. “It’s like a magical fruit that shouldn’t be here.”The pawpaw patchAccording to the United Nations, 13 crops provide 80% of people’s caloric intake worldwide, with about half of those calories coming from wheat, corn and rice. But some of these crops may not grow well in the higher temperatures, unpredictable rainfall and extreme weather events caused by climate change. Warmer temperatures are also expected to bring a new wave of pests and diseases to temperate areas, like much of the United States.Enter the pawpaw, a tree that’s surprisingly hardy and flexible in where it grows.According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, pawpaws grow “in the shade in open woods usually in wet, fertile bottomlands, but can grow in upland areas on rich soils.” They can form …

Article Attribution | Read More at Article Source

Share This