A Brief History of Breadfruit
Originating from New Guinea, breadfruit has been cultivated for over 3,000 years and spread throughout the Pacific by voyaging islanders . When first discovered by Europeans in the 1500s, they were delighted with the fact that the taste of these starchy fruits resembled bake bread when roasted . It was not until 1769 that British explorers came across breadfruit in Tahiti, and wished to exploit it by transporting the trees to the Caribbean . It was proposed that King George III commission a special expedition for that very purpose [1,2]. The HMS Bounty set sail from Tahiti to the Caribbean with one thousand breadfruit trees to provide British slaves with a high-energy, nutrient-rich food source . However, the ship was attacked by mutineers and all of the plants were thrown overboard .
Five years later, a second trip was commissioned and this time proved to be successful, which lead to introduction of breadfruit to the West Indies . Remarkably, you can find the original trees that were planted in Jamaica over 200 years ago that still produce fruit to this day . Across the South Pacific, breadfruit remains a vital cultural and dietary resource for many of its inhabitants .
(1) Baba, Shigeyuki, Hung Tuck Chung, Mio Kezuka, Tomomi Inoue, and Eric Wei Chiang Chan. “Artocarpus altilis and Pandanus tectorius: Two important fruits of Oceania with medical values.” Emirates Journal of Food and Agriculture, vol. 28, no. 8, 2016, pp. 531-539.
(2) “Breadfruit History” National Tropical Botanical Garden, 2017, https://ntbg.org/breadfruit/about/history