Miracle Fruit


Synsepalum dulcificum, the miracle fruit plant
dubofadubofadub, via Flickr

Ruby Jones and Mike Procter look at the miracle fruit. It makes everything taste sweet! They also look at other "underused" foods.

Transcript


Voice 1

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Ruby Jones

Voice 2

And I’m Mike Proctor. This programme uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 3

‘These are very good. I could eat these all day.’

Voice 1

Have you ever eaten a lemon? This small yellow fruit can be unpleasant to eat. It is not sweet. In fact it is the opposite – it is bitter. So why are these people enjoying them so much?

Voice 4

‘It is like eating something from another universe, where lemons are as easy to eat as oranges – and just as nice.’

Voice 5

‘This lemon tastes great! I could eat a whole lemon. I think this would be a great trick to show people.’

Voice 2

These people are eating lemons, but they taste sweet, not how lemons usually taste. So why are these people enjoying them so much?

Voice 1

Well, the people are from an American news website – the AV Club. They are doing a taste test on a new product. Before they eat the lemons, they put a Miracle Berry in their mouth. A Miracle Berry is a very small red fruit. It grows in West Africa. It makes foods that are bitter taste sweet. When you eat the berry it releases juice. This liquid then covers the parts of your mouth that sense taste – the taste buds. Then, when you eat something bitter or sour, it tastes sweet.

Voice 2

People in many parts of the world can now buy these Miracle Berries. A few companies are beginning to sell them. Some people think that the miracle chemical in the berry could replace sugar in many foods.

Voice 1

In America, one of the first people to discover the Miracle Berry was Robert Harvey. Harvey is a scientist. In the 1960’s, he started working with the fruit. He wanted to find out how it made things taste sweet. His research seemed to be going well. He had discovered a way of using the miracle chemical to make food taste better. He asked children to test it. They said his foods tasted even better than food with sugar in.

Voice 2

It seemed like Robert Harvey was going to make millions of dollars. Some people thought that he could compete with the sugar companies and win. But then there was trouble.

Harvey received a letter from the Food and Drugs Administration, or FDA. This organisation is in charge of safety of food and medicines sold in the United States. The FDA told Harvey they would not let him sell his miracle berry chemical. They said more tests were needed to see if it was safe.

Voice 1

Also, there have been reports of people breaking into Harvey’s laboratory to steal secret information. Was someone trying to stop him selling his miracle chemical? Harvey never discovered the truth. And he was shocked by the FDA’s ban. The safety tests that they demanded would take years and cost a lot of money. But he did not have enough money for that. He was forced to close his business. His Miracle Berry project was finished. So, many years passed without the rest of the world knowing about this miracle from West Africa.

Voice 2

However people in parts of West Africa have known about the Miracle Berry for a very long time. They have been using it to sweeten their food for hundreds of years. Now, 40 years after Robert Harvey, more scientists and businessmen are discovering this amazing fruit.

Voice 1

The Miracle Berry is not the only unusual fruit that could soon be sold around the world. Organisations and businesses are looking for other unusual plants and fruits around the world. They hope to make money for the companies and the countries that grow the crops.

Voice 2

Another fruit that is new to much of the world is the baobab. This grows in many parts of Africa on large trees. It contains lots of vitamin C and calcium. So it is a good, healthy food. In July 2008 the European Union announced that the baobab fruit could be sold in Europe. This should mean more money for countries where the fruit grows, such as Zambia and Botswana.

Voice 1

The organisation that is helping sell the baobab fruit in Europe is called Phytotrade Africa. Phytotrade Africa is always looking for new crops in Africa that they could help sell. They hope that this will help the developing countries where these crops grow. Cyril Lombard works for Phytotrade Africa. He said.

Voice 3

‘Being able to sell the baobab in Europe is great news for Africa. Opening up the European market to this product will change the lives of poor communities there.’

Voice 2

A group from the United Kingdom has studied what effect selling the baobab fruit could have. The Natural Resources Institute says that the wild Baobab needs to be carefully harvested. Then it could make a lot of money for the people who grow it. African farmers could sell up to one thousand million (1,000,000,000) dollars’ worth of the crop every year.

Voice 1

It is no surprise then that Phytotrade Africa is not the only group looking for unusual crops. There are also other organisations and businesses looking around the world for new and interesting crops. The International Centre for Underutilised Crops, or ICUC, is one of these organisations. It describes underutilised crops as:

Voice 4

‘... Plants that research scientists and other development workers have not made use of. They are traditionally used for food, material, oil or medicine. They are often very important for poor people living away from the cities. The underutilised crops often provide food, raise money and add to the communities’ culture. People living in these rural areas could earn more money from them.’

Voice 2

The ICUC works with local people to help grow and sell these underutilised crops. They have also helped launch a project called ‘Crops for the Future’. The project workers say that it is risky for the world to depend on so few kinds of crops. If one crop fails then this could create huge problems. They say to solve this people should be growing different kinds of underutilised crops. They also say that as the world’s population increases, underutilised crops could be even more important.

Voice 1

Feeding the world could become more and more difficult in the future. Making use of underutilised crops may be one answer to keeping us alive and well. So who knows, the next miracle fruit may just by growing on a plant that no one has noticed yet.

Voice 2

The writer and producer of today’s programme was Steve Myersco. The voices you heard were from the United Kingdom and the United States. All quotations were adapted and voiced by Spotlight.

Voice 1

Computer users can find our programmes and our word list on our website, www.radioenglish.net. This programme is called, “Miracle Fruit”. Thank you for listening today. Goodbye.

Question:

Do you like sweet or sour fruits? Would you still like the fruit if its taste changed?

Comments


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hela
said on October 22, 2009

very interesting

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juan Reyes
said on October 25, 2010

This program helps people around the world to keep the enthusiasm to contunue growing different kinds of underutilised crops. thank

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kosta67
said on October 27, 2010

Thank you very much for your very interesting programs, they helped me learn English !
:)

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juan Reyes
said on January 28, 2013

In reality since I began listening this program I have been improving learning English, I think that listening and reading this program can improve a lot, God bless you Spotlight.

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Thomas Nguyen
said on January 28, 2013

I listen this program everyday to improve my English listening skill. It’s useful for me. Thanh you so much, Spotlight!

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czesciaudi
said on January 29, 2013

It is really fantastic!!!

Learning Everything's avatar
Learning Everything
said on February 01, 2015

The miracle fruit were a chemical for food? That mean we needed to use it before we want to eat another fruit?

What is different between of ogarniz fruit with miracle fruit? I like to know it more clearly.

Note: please help me to correct my grammar in short essay above via my email as Josephnguyen6789 @gmail.com. Thanks.

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Johanna Castillo
said on March 22, 2016

I think so! But for my taste there are fruits that are delicious at the same way! with the original taste and smelll ! . Thus for me this sounds good only if I going to eat a chilli pepper or somethig like that.

Severino Ramos da Silva's avatar
Severino Ramos da Silva
said on March 24, 2016

From: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (Severino Ramos)
To: spotlight
Subject: answer to the question above
Date: Thursday 24, March 2016
São Paulo SP Brazil

Dear Ruby Jones, Mike Proctor, and Steve Myerso:

First, I want to thank you by more one execellent matter that you have produced for us. Yes, I do. Everyday I eat a piece of pineapple together with a glass of lemon and Orange juice. Yes I would. Because each fruit contains a type of vitamin. Besides,  our body needs vitamins to protect ourselves from diseases. Also, It needs vitamins to be Strong and to keep our functions working very well.

Your regards,
Severino Ramos
Brazil