The could-be hero is called breadfruit although it doesn't really seem like a fruit at all. It's large with prickly skin and tastes like a baked potato or -- you guessed it -- bread when prepared.
Breadfruit grows on tall trees in tropical areas like Hawaii, Samoa, and the Caribbean. It's high in energy from carbohydrates, low in fat, and has more potassium than 10 bananas.
But how will this tropical fruit feed the world?
Fruit of the Breadfruit, Moraceae, French Polynesia (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)
DEA / C.DANI / I.JESKE via Getty Images
According to the National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG), more than 80% of the world's hungry live in tropical or subtropical regions -- the type of environment that is perfect for growing breadfruit trees. These trees are very easy to maintain and can bear an abundance of fruit for decades.
Organizations like Global Breadfruit and NTBG's Breadfruit Institute are dedicated to promoting the superfood and spreading it to areas of the world that need it most. “Every time we plant one of these trees, we’re reducing the susceptibility to famine and starvation in the country where the tree is going," said Josh Schneider a horticulturist and partner to Global Breadfruit.
Schneider has been working with the botanical scientists and the Breadfruit Institute in Hawaii to reproduce breadfruit trees and send them off to some of the world's poorest areas. The Trees That Feed Foundation, for example, is planting more breadfruit trees in Haiti, where they hope to feed at least 1,000 orphans every day.
Breadfruit, also known as ulu, has been feeding the Hawaiian and Polynesian islands for centuries. An ancient Hawaiian legend tells the story of a god named Ku, who saved his family from starvation by burying himself in the ground and emerging as a healthy breadfruit tree.
Maybe breadfruit can solve the world's hunger problem, too.
Clarification: Language has been modified to indicate that The Trees That Feed Foundation has simply been planting additional breadfruit trees, and did not bring the species to Haiti for the first time.
Learn more about how to help the breadfruit distribution efforts by visiting the Breadfruit Institute, Global Breadfruit, and Trees That Feed Foundation.