Free the Miracle Fruit!

My friend Jacob Grier has created an online stir with his post about the wonders of the Miracle Fruit.

It's a small, red berry from West Africa with a strange and wonderful property: It makes sour things taste sweet.

I tried one over the weekend, from the same batch Jacob tried. You put the thing in your mouth, chew it, and slosh it around so it coats your tongue. I then bit into two lemon wedges, and ate them both. I chewed them like candy. They tasted like sweet lemonade.

The secret is a glycoprotein called Miraculin (yes, that's actually what it's called) that attaches itself to your taste buds. No one seems to be quite sure how it turns sour and bitter to sweet. The effect lasts for about 90 to 120 minutes.

The fruit is heavily marketed in Japan, where it's used in fruit form, in powder form, and now that scientists have figured out a way to isolate Miraculin, in tablets. Some chefs there have constructed low-cal deserts around the use of the fruit. Wired News reported last December that there's even Miraculin-infused lettuce in the works.

In Japan, the Miracule Fruit is particularly popular among diabetics and dieters. Those are two very large (sorry) and growing markets in the U.S. It's also used to help leukemia patients get back their appetites, and to make bitter medicine more palatable. All this would seem to mean a great market for the stuff in America. So why can't U.S. consumers get any?

It seems that the FDA banned the fruit under mysterious circumstances in the 1970s. I've seen speculation on various websites that it may have had something to do with the sugar industry, or with the fact that aspartame was working its way to FDA approval at about the same time. There's been little written about why the fruit was banned, only that the prohibition appears to have been sudden and unexpected. It came on the eve of one compnay's plan to roll out a major marketing campaign.

The Miracle Fruit has been used for centuries, now. And there have been quite a few studies of it, with no known ill-effects, other I guess than that it could potentially cause something toxic to taste better than it should. That hardly seems like a reason to ban it.

Seems like something the FDA ought to revisit, particularly with the uptick in diabetes cases over the last several years.

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  • Egon||

    Global replace: "mircale" to "miracle". Also, "It makes sour things taste sweet."

    Man, I should be a copy editor.

  • Glucomatose||

    Sweet!

  • Dave W.||

    It seems that the FDA banned the fruit under mysterious circumstances in the 1970s. I've seen speculation on various websites that it may have had something to do with the sugar industry, or with the fact that aspartame was working its way to FDA approval at about the same time.

    Corn growers, too. and bee keepers, I s'pose.

    If we are going to have a conspiracy theory here, we might as well name everybody who had something to gain.

  • Timothy||

    It's no musical fruit, that's for sure.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    And those tools at Splenda. Oh wait, that wasn't invented yet.

    I want some.

  • ||

    I thought the miracle fruit was Ted Haggard. OHHH.

  • Warren||

    Dude! Sweet!

    Oh my God! The FDA banned the Miracle Fruit!

    You Bastards!

  • ||

    What am I missing--why can't we grow it here and let people use it as they wish? Surely we havn't made it a controlled substance. I want some!! (Ah, maybe it IS addictive....)

  • ||

    As far as I know, there's no ban on the plants, cuttings, or seeds, only selling the fruit as food. Even then, it hasn't been banned, so much as "denied approval".

  • ||

    "Seems like something the FDA ought to revisit, particularly with the uptick in diabetes cases over the last several years."

    Or perhaps Congress should revisit the entire existance of the FDA. How many other useful products is the FDA depriving people? How many people have died because they were denied lifesaving drugs which lacked FDA approval? How many billions that could otherwise be productively spent does society waste jumping through FDA hoops? Yeah, the FDA saved us from Tholidimyde but at what cost?

  • Guy Montag||

    It seems that the FDA banned the fruit under mysterious circumstances in the 1970s. I've seen speculation on various websites that it may have had something to do with the sugar industry, or with the fact that aspartame was working its way to FDA approval at about the same time.

    Perhaps they (and the others mentioned above) learned the lessons of the cotton growers successful marajuana ban? Another paperless, invisible act of big [insert commodity]!

  • ||

    I guess...that it could potentially cause something toxic to taste better than it should.

    Could turn spitters into swallowers.

  • ||

    Maybe they're afraid of kids getting stomach aches from eating unripe fruit.

  • ||

    You are assuming that the FDA actually needs a reason to ban something.

  • Alex||

    I am aware of no research showing it to be safe and effective, until the research is done it cannot be allowed.

  • ||

    Could turn spitters into swallowers.

    Actually thats not a half bad marketing angle. You could definetely chalk up some sales in adult stores with a tag line like that.

  • ||

    Science bless you Russ 2000, your post made morning.

  • Guy Montag||

    Could turn spitters into swallowers.

    Great, now get the Altoids folks involved! Aren't big corn and big honey enough jack-bootied thugs for you?

    Note: on the whole spitter vs. swallower issue, when it gets to that point I really don't care.

  • Graphite||

    So let me guess this straight, the FDA has to explicitly approve a perfectly edible fruit for human consumption before it can be sold in the U.S.? Gosh, it's a good thing the New Deal did away with that silly old habit of putting any limits on the commerce clause whatsoever.

  • Graphite||

    "get" this straight

  • ||

    How many people have died because they were denied lifesaving drugs which lacked FDA approval?

    Probably not as many as haven't been killed from eating tainted meat.

  • ||

    Probably not as many as haven't been killed from eating tainted meat.

    Juh?

  • ||

    Juh?

    It was in response to the general idea of "why do we need the FDA?"

  • tros||

    Yeah that miracle fruit is something else guys. Don't believe that propaganda about it when they say all of this is punishing us because we ate it they are stupid insect drones. Seriously if there was this thing and it was supposed to make you know what the right thing to do is would you say, "No, I think we're doing okay at guessing what the right thing to do is" and not eat it? I don't think so.

    So now I can't say, "You can't have the sweet without the sour" FUCK!

  • ||

    How many people has the FDA (or the USDA for that matter) rescued from tainted meat?

    How many of those people were actually saved by the technology of refrigeration?

    How many people have consumed tainted meat because they trusted the incompetent USDA to protect them?
    (The article highlights how sucky the USDA is. The author may not offer the libertarian argument as a solution, but that does not mean ours is not a viable answer.)

  • Ron Hardin||

    You can just use Zycam (cold remedy) which makes everything odorless and tasteless except Snapple Diet Peach, which tastes the same as always.

  • Dave W.||

    How many of those people were actually saved by the technology of refrigeration?

    As joe pointed out in another thread yesterday, sometimes government regulation encourages new and costly technologies to be invented and/or put into wide use.

    Where did refrigeration first become popular -- in nations that regulated food, or nations that were laissez faire about the food supply?

  • ||

    Dave W

    Refrigeration originated centuries ago, in the form of ice houses.

    Artificial refrigeration, using mechanical cooling cycles, etc, originated in the 1840s and was commercially available by the late 19th century.

    The FDA is a creature of the 20th Century.

  • ||

    Where did refrigeration first become popular -- in nations that regulated food, or nations that were laissez faire about the food supply?

    Poor question. It does not account for degree or type of regulation or whether the advent of the use of refrigeration was connected to regulation.

  • ||

    Aresen,

    Really, we are talking about the USDA, and specifically the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) division, not the FDA, if we are talking about meat inspection. Their history is available here.
    They are "celebrating 100 years of the Federal Meat Inspection Act." Must be some party.

  • Dave W.||

    Artificial refrigeration, using mechanical cooling cycles, etc, originated in the 1840s and was commercially available by the late 19th century.

    I said "wide use." I meant "wide use."

    Too refrigeration wasn't in wide use in the summer of 1881 when President Garfield was failing to recover from bullet wounds (as well as a punctured liver from a physician's probing finger). They had to use ice, wet cloth and fans too keep him cool, even at that late date.

    If the FDA had started in 1806, instead of 1906, Garfield mighta lived to see 50, notwithstanding the minarchist terrorist.

  • ||

    If the FDA had started in 1806, instead of 1906, Garfield mighta lived to see 50, notwithstanding the minarchist terrorist.

    Juh?

    Garfield might have lived to see 50 if they had had better disinfection techniques. Garfield might live to see 130 if he were to eat better, not run for President, and be born 10 years from now.

  • ||

    I'm going to McDonalds now.
    Choke on that, statist anti-corn syrup types!

  • ||

    Too refrigeration wasn't in wide use in the summer of 1881 when President Garfield was failing to recover from bullet wounds (as well as a punctured liver from a physician's probing finger). They had to use ice, wet cloth and fans too keep him cool, even at that late date.

    If the FDA had started in 1806, instead of 1906, Garfield mighta lived to see 50, notwithstanding the minarchist terrorist.



    Uhm yes the FDA would have passed emergency regulation to stick Garfield in a meat locker. That was the most idiotic pro-regulation/governemetn argument I have seen to date.

  • Graphite||

    Dave W., where do you get the idea that Garfield's assassin was a "minarchist terrorist"? Wikipedia doesn't mention anything about his political beliefs, just a lot of bizarre and possibly insane religious cult behavior.

  • Guy Montag||

    Poor question. It does not account for degree or type of regulation or whether the advent of the use of refrigeration was connected to regulation.

    And thus began the cycle of global warming and the ozone crisis.

    I hope you Garfield voters are happy!

  • ||

    Dave W.,
    Wide use of refrigeration didn't occur until after 1911, not coincidentially right along with the expansion of electricity into homes. I suppose if the FDA hadn't approved electricity history might have changed, eh?

  • ||

    As highnumber pointed out, it was poor antisepsis and surgical knowledge that allowed Garfield to die from a wound less severe than the one Reagan took in 1981.

    Refrigeration couldn't have saved him.

    As for 'wide use' of refrigeration, that depends on your definition of 'wide use.'

    Large scale commercial refrigeration was in use in the late 1800's. I can't remember the date that frozen beef was first shipped from Australia to England, but I beleive it was around 1880.

    Small scale commercial freezers appeared around 1900 or earlier.

    Home refrigeration did not get going until the 1920s and 1930s as that depended on scaling down the size of the mechanism, the development of safe coolants [ammonia was the first coolant, but was not safe for a home appliance], and the spread of the electrical grid.

  • ||

    kwix

    Thanks for your link to precise information. I'd forgotten about the use of sulphur dioxide.

  • ||

    Kwix,

    Can you find me something about the introduction of GFA heat in residences? Thanks.

  • Dave W.||

    Wide use of refrigeration didn't occur until after 1911, not coincidentially right along with the expansion of electricity into homes. I suppose if the FDA hadn't approved electricity history might have changed, eh?

    so a few years after the Pure Food and drug act of 1906.

    I guess the question is whether homes got electricity so that perishables could be safer, or whether perishables could be safer because homes got electricity, or (most likely) a little bit of both.

  • ||

    I guess the question is whether homes got electricity so that perishables could be safer, or whether perishables could be safer because homes got electricity, or (most likely) a little bit of both.

    Do you even read what you write?

    Your logic forms some sort of closed circuit. What do you need the rest of us for?

  • Dave W.||

    ,i>As highnumber pointed out, it was poor antisepsis and surgical knowledge that allowed Garfield to die from a wound less severe than the one Reagan took in 1981.

    And I am saying that if the FDA had been in the habit of regulating surgical instruments from 1806 to 1881, then a physician would have been less inclined to stick his dirty hand in Garfield's side like Garfield was some kind of Victorian Risen Christ and pop his liver open like some genteel Centurion with a lance for a finger.

    On the other thing I was confusing Garfield's assassin with McKinley's. It has been too long since I seen Slacker, I guess.

  • Jennifer||

    And if the founding fathers had had the foresight to start the FCC in 1776, we might have had the internet by 1800.

    Dave, do you think it's possible that Garfield's death (and Reagan's survival a century later) might have had anything to do with humanity's increased knowledge about the germ theory of disease and infection?

  • Dave W.||

    actually, I guess the doctor would have been more like thomas than the centuron.

    i luv the concept of Victorian Jesuses, tho.

  • Riley McArdle||

    I have started a message board called Miracle Taste for the discussion of miracle fruit - where to get it, how to grow it, recipes, stories, etc.

    http://www.miracletaste.com/

    Please check it out and post something. Hopefully it can grow into a great community for miracle fruit lovers.

  • ||

    If the FDA had been around in 1806, we'd STILL be fighting to get antisepsis and anesthesia approved.

  • ||

    Probably not as many as haven't been killed from eating tainted meat.

    How, exactly, does the FDA protect us from tainted meat by banning perfectly safe fruit? Or banning lifesaving drugs?

    Crap, for that matter, how does the FDA protect us from tainted meat, period?

    Somehow, when I was in Cambodia, which has just about zero food safety regulation, and far less refridgeration or sanitation, people managed to avoid dying from tainted meat. Sorry, but your fantasy that says that we would all die if it wasn't for the government overlords watching over us is seriously flawed.

  • Dave W.||

    Dave, do you think it's possible that Garfield's death (and Reagan's survival a century later) might have had anything to do with humanity's increased knowledge about the germ theory of disease and infection?

    I find it significant that the two modern doctors who developed germ theory were doing government sponsored research. Not in the libertarian US of A of the 1800s, of course.

  • ||

    If Bill Clinton had held out for a girlfriend who swallowed, he would never have been impeached.

  • Robert||

    I tasted it in the 1970s. My physiologic psych prof, gave a demo with some extract powder from the fruit, passing around lemons to the volunteers.

    Authority of FDA over new foods is murky. It depends on a judgement of whether a food has been in common enough use to be considered "food". Otherwise, its food use is restricted to its being a "food additive", which requires licensing.

    The FFDCA's provisions (almost all of them) explicitly apply only to interstate commerce (including imports), making any add'l powers imputed to Congress irrelevant in this case. However, the states all have similar laws re licensing of foods & drugs, which laws allow FDA licensure as an alternative to state licensure, so nobody bothers with state licensure.

  • Robert||

    Should've named the prof as Dr. Hood after the comma.

  • ||

    Tainted meat, feh. Who will protect us from tainted love?

  • perilisk||

    Without the FDA, who will ensure that God's will is done by ensuring women are punished for the crime of fornication by the miracle of pregnancy?

  • ||

    How did you go from a fruit to refrigeration? You guys need to get a hobby or something.

  • ||

    Hobby? Like what - telling other people to get a hobby?
    Dude, you need to get a hobby or something.

    Meh. Let's talk refrigeration.

  • ||

    IF it can turn spitters into swallowers, we need to investigate this and embrace it!!

  • ||

  • Dave W.||

    . . . the uptick in diabetes cases . . .

    I thought an uptick was a small incremental increase.

    Radly, Radley, Radley, you did this word choice badly, sadly -- Signed,

    A Gadfly

  • ||

    Doesn't have a name 'eh?

  • Chimpplanet||

    Same happened with the natural sweetener "Stevia". Donald Rumsfeld's Aspartame did not want it in the market. The FDA won't approve Stedia as a sweetener but Coca-Cola uses it in it's sugar free coke in Japan.

  • Bou||

    Can it be grown in any parts of the US?

  • pissedoffpatriot||

    What else would you expect from the Food and Drug Association? Aspartame went from a serious neurotoxin to suddenly being a healthy alternative to sugar. Flouride went from a severe neurotoxin, even studied by the Nazis to being approved for our consumption. The studies used to conclude this were not even based on the actual fertilzer byproducts being fed to us AND never had FDA approval. Mercury is ok for fillings but watch how the dentist deals with it. No matter what the 'scientists' say the final decision is always left to someone who has an agenda that is NOT in the best interest of the people!!!

  • ||

    The "banning" of miracle fruit by the FDA is another example of an internet urban legend gone wild.

    I notice that the "FDA ban" paragraph of the post is the only one without a link to a source. The FDA web site is one of the best on the web, and any action results in a huge amount of online documentation.

    Some searches to try for you googlers:

    -- site:.fda.gov "miracle fruit"

    -- site:fda.gov miraculin

  • Robert||

    You can sell stevia legally as a dietary supplement, just not labeled as a sweetener. I have some. Only thing it's really good in is tea. Tastes like licorice candy, i.e. anise flavor.

  • ||

    Big business runs the world. If they demand that the gov't reject a miracle fruit for their suagr profits then it is banned. After all, corporations and gov't are merely quid-pro-quo whorehouses sold to the highest bidder. When the gov't needs illegal wire-taps, Verizon and Sprint allow them secret rooms to listen in on calls. When Haliburton (and KBR) need more revenue, the gov't hands out no-bid contracts. When the gov't dislikes literature, Amazon and Wikipedia ban the book "America Deceived". We The People had our gov't (and healthcare) sold out from beneath us.
    Final link (before Google Books caves to pressure and drops the title):
    America Deceived (book)

  • ||

    Hank G,
    Are you another one of those authors who pose as nutjob commenters to hawk your book?
    It's cool if you are, but let me in on the joke. This thread looks dead anyway.

  • old guy||

    Before screaming to loudly about how the FDA is shafting us all, perhaps those interested in this "fruit" should do a spot of research instead of just being whiners. It took me less than one minute to find a place to order seeds for this plant, along with directions on its growing. In Fact, it took me longer to write this rebuttal than to find the address. Check this url out.

    http://www.tradewindsfruit.com/miracle_fruit.htm

    Take personal responsibility and get off your bum. If you aren't willing to do something about it, then don't whine.

  • ||

    What Scientists say these days is like throwing water on a ducks back!! It simply doesn't carry weight anymore because of their two sided faces almost everytime...best to stick to moderation in everything.

  • Texas Longhorn||

    Let's see, a "miracle" fruit from West Africa, a continent in its entirety filled with war, misery and disease; popularized in Japan, a country full of men with tiny penises.

    I think I'll pass on that "miracle."

    I'll gladly take my bovine hormones and chew on my bitter tabacc'y made in the good ol' U.S. of A. Don't need no damn hippy fruit to make my cee'gars taste like roses, no s'ah!

  • MiracleFruitHut||

    As an established supplier of the miracle fruit, i can clarify the FSA also has made this product illegal and class it as a novelty food item. As usual there's tons of grey area with it but i recently got banned from selling it on Amazon UK and the reason i got was unjust. It is clear they are censoring the miracle fruit with its amazing potential.

    If you are from the UK, U.S or Europe you can find miracle fruit on our website. http://www.MiracleFruitHut.com

  • Angel Miracle Fruit||

    Recently in science news, researchers in Japan were able to cultivate tomatoes that could synthesize their own miraculin, the key ingredient in miracle fruit. This is probably a step closer to cheaper miracle fruit because it'll be easier to grow indoors and in huge quantities. Anyone else heard about this?

  • sathi2000||

    The miracle berry can be used to reduce caloric intake. Those with an affinity for sugary substances will be able to reduce sugar consumption, increase their intake of fruits and vegetables, and ultimately decrease daily calories. For diabetics, the miracle berry is a safe way to sweeten any sugar-free dish. This berry can also be used with cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, restoring the flavor of food for those who experience a metallic taste due to treatment.
    http://destinationsoftwareinc.com

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