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The Most Amazing Protein-Packed Fruit You've Never Heard Of

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By Katie Maguire Held

When you hear the phrase "vegan protein," you probably think of soy, nuts, beans, quinoa—the usual suspects. But jackfruit may soon be making its way to a plant-based, protein-packed plate near you.

If you couldn't pick a jackfruit out of a lineup, you're definitely not alone. "Jackfruit is the most amazing fruit that most people have never heard of," is how Eric Helms, founder of New York City's cult smoothie spot Juice Generation (and superfood connoisseur) describes the buzzy ingredient.

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The giant (up to 80 pounds!), tree-born tropical fruit grown in South and Southeast Asia has become a health-conscious favorite because, according to Helms, it's "high in protein, potassium and vitamin B and lower in calories than most meat-free alternatives like corn and soy." He's incorporated jackfruit into several dishes on Juice Generation's new Vegan4Lunch menu (an initiative that encourages customers to eat one locally sourced, plant-based meal a day).

He's not alone in the love; Scott Winegard, director of culinary operations for Matthew Kenney's raw food empire, is also a huge fan, while Minimalist Baker features a jackfruit recipe in her upcoming cookbook, Minimalist Baker's Everyday Cooking.

So where has this magical fruit been hiding all our lives? You can sometimes find it whole at Asian markets and natural food stores, which also carry it canned in brine. An increasing number of indie food upstarts are also starting to package and sell it, like Upton's Naturals—which offers fun flavors like Chili Lime Carnitas and Thai Curry—and The Jackfruit Company (both brands can be found at Whole Foods).

When jackfruit is fresh from the pod, it tastes like a tropical Starburst; you'll know it's ripe when it emits a fruity smell and starts to give when you squeeze it. When it's underripe, it isn't sweet and it has a meatier texture, which makes it perfect for cooking—from pan-frying to baking to slow-cooking and beyond. "It's highly versatile, as it takes on the flavor of whatever it's cooked in," said Helms. "For example, mixing jackfruit with a barbecue sauce allows it to take on a pulled pork flavor profile."

With options including southern BBQ jackfruit and jackfruit tacos on Juice Generation's updated menu, it shouldn't be too hard to ditch your chicken caesar. But if you're not in NYC, no need to feel left out—there are plenty of ways to incorporate jackfruit into your lunch box, starting with this recipe.

Head on over to Well+Good for Juice Generation's jackfruit taco recipe, as well as some tips for prepping whole jackfruit—it's not as scary as it looks, promise.

This article was reposted with permission from our media associate Rodale Wellness.

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By Genevieve Belmaker

Last week, the Peruvian Palm Oil Producers' Association (JUNPALMA) promised to enter into an agreement for sustainable and deforestation-free palm oil production. The promise was secured by the U.S. based National Wildlife Federation (NWF) in collaboration with the local government, growers and the independent conservation organization Sociedad Peruana de Ecodesarrollo.

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The rallying cry to build it again and to build it better than before is inspiring after a natural disaster, but it may not be the best course of action, according to new research published in the journal Science.

"Faced with global warming, rising sea levels, and the climate-related extremes they intensify, the question is no longer whether some communities will retreat—moving people and assets out of harm's way—but why, where, when, and how they will retreat," the study begins.

The researchers suggest that it is time to rethink retreat, which is often seen as a last resort and a sign of weakness. Instead, it should be seen as the smart option and an opportunity to build new communities.

"We propose a reconceptualization of retreat as a suite of adaptation options that are both strategic and managed," the paper states. "Strategy integrates retreat into long-term development goals and identifies why retreat should occur and, in doing so, influences where and when."

The billions of dollars spent to rebuild the Jersey Shore and to create dunes to protect from future storms after Superstorm Sandy in 2012 may be a waste if sea level rise inundates the entire coastline.

"There's a definite rhetoric of, 'We're going to build it back better. We're going to win. We're going to beat this. Something technological is going to come and it's going to save us,'" said A.R. Siders, an assistant professor with the disaster research center at the University of Delaware and lead author of the paper, to the New York Times. "It's like, let's step back and think for a minute. You're in a fight with the ocean. You're fighting to hold the ocean in place. Maybe that's not the battle we want to pick."

Rethinking retreat could make it a strategic, efficient, and equitable way to adapt to the climate crisis, the study says.

Dr. Siders pointed out that it has happened before. She noted that in the 1970s, the small town of Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin moved itself out of the flood plain after one too many floods. The community found and reoriented the business district to take advantage of highway traffic and powered it entirely with solar energy, as the New York Times reported.

That's an important lesson now that rising sea levels pose a catastrophic risk around the world. Nearly 75 percent of the world's cities are along shorelines. In the U.S. alone coastline communities make up nearly 40 percent of the population— more than 123 million people, which is why Siders and her research team are so forthright about the urgency and the complexities of their findings, according to Harvard Magazine.

Some of those complexities include, coordinating moves across city, state or even international lines; cultural and social considerations like the importance of burial grounds or ancestral lands; reparations for losses or damage to historic practices; long-term social and psychological consequences; financial incentives that often contradict environmental imperatives; and the critical importance of managing retreat in a way that protects vulnerable and poor populations and that doesn't exacerbate past injustices, as Harvard Magazine reported.

If communities could practice strategic retreats, the study says, doing so would not only reduce the need for people to choose among bad options, but also improve their circumstances.

"It's a lot to think about," said Siders to Harvard Magazine. "And there are going to be hard choices. It will hurt—I mean, we have to get from here to some new future state, and that transition is going to be hard.…But the longer we put off making these decisions, the worse it will get, and the harder the decisions will become."

To help the transition, the paper recommends improved access to climate-hazard maps so communities can make informed choices about risk. And, the maps need to be improved and updated regularly, the paper said as the New York Times reported.


"It's not that everywhere should retreat," said Dr. Siders to the New York Times. "It's that retreat should be an option. It should be a real viable option on the table that some places will need to use."

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