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How the pawpaw, also known as a hillbilly mango, could be a climate change winner in NC

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USA TODAY NETWORK North Carolina isn’t known for its tropical fruits. Neither is Missouri, West Virginia or southern Ontario, for that matter.

But likely unbeknownst to most Americans (and Canadians), the largest edible fruit tree native to North America grows in most states east of the Mississippi. And the taste of its fruit, which is full of healthy goodies like antioxidants, has been compared to a cross between a mango and a banana.

So why aren’t pawpaw fruit and products overflowing at supermarkets and health food stores?

That’s complicated, experts say. But with climate change expected to bring new challenges to the world’s food supplies and supply chain issues already playing havoc with global trade, looking local is increasingly seen as a safe, viable and smart option for protecting and increasing food supplies.

But making pawpaw a staple in the American diet could be difficult.

Dr. Mike Parker , a tree fruit specialist with N.C. State University, said besides convincing those who might find the pawpaw’s texture and taste difficult to stomach, there’s a more basic issue.“The problem is getting trees into production and getting the fruit to market,” he said. “Quite frankly, they rot too quickly.”That doesn’t mean, though, that some local […]

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