The food in the picture above looks like a taco, smells like a taco, and tastes like a taco. Must be a taco, right? Wrong. It's so much more than a taco. It's the future of healthy, scrumptious, sustainable, meatless meals that literally grow on trees.
OK, so maybe not the whole taco (How awesome would it be if taco trees were a thing?!), but the "meat" in the taco did come from a tree before becoming the tasty new trend that's about to be your latest food obsession — or fobsession, if you will.
Jackfruit, a spiky tropical fruit native to Asia that can weigh up to 100 pounds, is a longtime favorite among vegetarians and vegans across the globe. Yeah, yeah — you get it: Vegetarians and vegans like their produce. But nothing's produce-y about the way this jackfruit is being prepared.
The monster crop can turn sweet if it's left to ripen on the tree, but when picked early, it doesn't have much flavor. And when you pair your own flavoring with its surprisingly meaty texture, jackfruit can be turned into a healthier version of pretty much any of your favorite meat-based dishes, including tacos, burgers, pulled pork, and more.
High in fiber and low in fat, jackfruit is an excellent meat alternative that's astonishingly versatile, but chopping it up requires certain tools and a whole lot of time and patience, which is probably why it's not as popular as it otherwise would be. But one young woman is determined to bring jackfruit into the American mainstream.
After taking a trip to India where 70 percent of the world's jackfruit supply is grown, The Jackfruit Company founder Annie Ryu decided to convert the underutilized fruit into a full-blown business. Five years later, the 25-year-old is working with more than 350 farming families to avoid waste and create a healthy, sustainable meat alternative free of processed ingredients and fillers that you can easily pick up at your local supermarket.
You're probably thinking these dishes must be ridiculously expensive, right? Wrong again. The Jackfruit Company's current products (see below) — jackfruit teriyaki bowls, curry bowls, BBQ burgers, and Tex-Mex tacos, with more options coming this fall — cost between $4 to $7 at major groceries like Whole Foods and Walmart. And at 50 to 100 calories per serving, they're sure to please both your wallet and your waistline. So regardless of whether you're trying to completely cut out or just cut down your real meat intake, we'd highly recommend giving these a shot.