As a chef and entrepreneur, Homaro Cantu has a reputation for an avant-garde approach to gastronomy. He believes the answer to one day eliminating sugar from our diets lies in a protein known as miraculin which was first discovered almost 50 years ago. Miraculin is a taste-modifier, one of only a handful of such naturally-occurring molecules in the world. It is found in the berries of a plant known as Synsepalum dulcificum or, colloquially, the “miracle fruit,” which grows in parts of West Africa.
For many years, the idea of replacing sugar with miraculin was unattractive to large organizations for cost reasons. When harvested from its natural West African environment, miracle fruit has a price point comparable to truffles. On one website, about 10 grams of freeze-dried miracle fruit powder costs $30.
The reason is that it takes around four years for every miracle plant to grow and just one out of four plants will bear fruit.
Cantus method has been to set up large indoor farms and grow the berry himself in-house, “It’s taken over three years to get our indoor farm efficient enough to be comparable with the shops, but we can now produce these berries at a fraction of the cost of sugar. And when you think of the amount of energy that sugar takes to grow, the processing and the food mile, there’s no comparison.”
Learn more about the “miracle berry” by watching the video below: