Press Release (ePRNews.com) - MIAMI - Aug 12, 2017 - “Mom hadn’t eaten in 6 weeks and was suddenly eating 5 minutes after the berry.”
In 2012, brothers Erik and Kris Tietig started a farm not knowing exactly where it would take them. Their family had grown Miracle Fruit plants for 2 decades as part of a wholesale tropical fruit nursery in Miami, FL. Starting a brand new business based solely on this one crop was something new to them, but the groundswell in demand from several customers gave them peace of mind. Erik and Kris knew that Miracle Fruit was desperately needed by many across the country and they were the ones that could to do it.
Patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment were commonly developing a metallic taste to most food and drinks, often creating an aversion to eating. It was some of these customers who visited the brothers in the late 90’s and early 2000’s that first demonstrated the very real benefit this fruit can provide. Instead of purchasing the trees, they would come by to pick some fruit that would normally be wasted falling to the ground. Word slowly spread. Phone calls and walk-in customers inquired more and more about Miracle Fruit, scientifically known as Synsepalum dulcificum.
The Tietig brothers were ready to act. The reassurance from these local customers was all they needed to take the big leap to start Miracle Fruit Farm at a nearby location south of Miami in an agricultural district known as the Redlands. Although they started with a few thousand small plants, the brothers had the know-how to propagate and grow superior quality plants on a mass scale. As their plants started to grow, their berry harvests skyrocketed. A few thousand berries picked in one month now turned into several hundred thousand berries.
Growing Miracle Fruit is one thing, distributing them across the country presents a whole new level of challenges. The berries are very perishable which is why you won’t find this desirable fruit in grocery stores. Berries must be individually picked by hand, packed very carefully and shipped overnight to their destination. While this is the simplest and most natural form of consuming Miracle Fruit, the practicality of reaching a wide audience is difficult. In addition to fruit, their farm ships fruit producing plants for customers wishing to grow their own sustainable crop.
The brothers new a traditional farm was not the answer to this non-traditional fruit. They needed a solution to help their customers while providing a practical means to deliver it. They were motivated by customers like Denise from College Station, TX who proclaimed “From personal experience during chemotherapy, I can attest that consuming Miracle Fruit prior to eating temporarily eliminated the unpleasant taste in my mouth and made it possible for me to actually want to eat.” Products like tablets made from freeze dried miracle fruit powder were already on the market from operations in West Africa and Taiwan. These tablets were popular for people looking for a taste tripping experience at parties. Erik and ad Kris felt there was an opportunity to develop their own tablet that would focus more on helping chemo patients and many other groups in need of stimulating or altering their sense of taste. Through trial and error helped by continuous feedback from their customers, the brothers finally developed the Miraculous melting tablet that met their criteria – it tastes good, melts fast, and most importantly, it works just like a fresh berry.
This farm to table solution was years in the making. According to younger brother Kris, “We took so many twists and turns since we started the farm 5 years ago, I wasn’t sure when we would reach our goal. We always knew it would take something our family could stand behind. I think we finally found it with these new tablets.” The next step from this point is creating awareness. It’s important to educate those suffering from negative taste alteration or a diminished sense of taste that there is a natural over the counter solution. The obscure fruit with a name typically used for the health-fad-of-the-month needs exposure. The medical community in South Florida is already making strides to provide data behind the positive effects of Miracle Fruit. The Tietig brothers have donated tens of thousands of samples to several hospitals and research centers for continued study. The results according to Erik Tietig has been overwhelmingly positive.
Most recently, the brothers were honored as finalists for the NutraIngredients Readers’ Choice Ingredient of the Year for the pure Miracle Fruit powder derived from their fresh berries. The potency of this powder was widely recognized for its quality. While the brothers did not win, there are proud to be 1 of 3 finalists for this international award.
The generosity demonstrated by the Tietig brothers is not surprising. Erik serves on several boards and fundraisers in South Florida including rotary and agricultural scholarship boards. Kris Tietig lives in Oviedo, FL while serving on the board at the Oviedo/Winter Springs Chamber of Commerce as well as HelpKidsPlaySports.org. Their commitment to their local community is a great sign that good news and good people are still out there working hard to help those in need. For more information on the brothers’ mission, please visit their website at http://miraclefruitfarm.com.
So what is the science behind this? After all, anything with the word “miracle” in the name makes easy fodder for the growing number of skeptics out there. It should be noted that the name Miracle Fruit is actually derived from the original name of the fruit where it was discovered in West Africa. The fruit has been around for centuries in relative obscurity. In the early 1900’s, horticulturalist David Fairchild brought a few specimens from Africa to South Florida for further study. Scientists were soon studying the effects this fruit produces for a wide a range of purposes including the psychology of taste perception, use in the military to make food rations more palatable, and improve insulin sensitivity for diabetics. These uses continue to be studied because the one consensus reached in the scientific community is that the potential for Miracle Fruit has not been reached.
This brings us back to the most promising future for Miracle Fruit which happens to be the mission of the Tietig brothers – improve the quality of life for those in need through natural flavor enhancement. The glycoprotein, called miraculin, found in the Miracle Fruit berry has the unique ability to form a strong bond to the sweet taste receptors on your tongue. In normal conditions, you won’t notice any change to foods. The magic happens as soon as the pH drops. Any food or beverage that is even the slightest bit acidic will trigger the glycoprotein to stimulate the sweet taste receptor sending a signal to your brain that what you just put in your mouth was sweet. Diving deeper, this effect is even more intricate. The stimulation of the sweet taste receptor causes sweet foods to taste sweeter and completely flips sour foods to sweet tasting foods creating the most dramatic experience.
Maximizing taste for those who suffer from a number of ailments effecting the sensory perception is a worthwhile cause. There is a significant population that has developed an aversion to eating because they have lost their sense of taste or are afflicted with a metallic taste that overwhelms the natural flavor of food. The subsequent result is malnourishment which can lead to further complications. This is where the psychology of taste perception is so important. If you can ‘trick’ your brain into thinking that was the best tasting tomato you’ve eaten since before you started your chemo treatment, then you experience that long lost sensation – a craving!
We know that consuming Miracle Fruit immediately prior to a meal can stimulate appetites by targeting foods and beverages that are acidic. This includes foods like fruit, tomatoes, cheeses, most sauces and dressings and beverages like wine, beer, fruit juices and even vinegar. Published studies have already indicated an improvement in taste for chemo patients; see J Clin Oncol 28, 2010 (suppl; abstr e19523). Further studies are currently underway which should validate past studies as well as provide credibility to the many people currently using Miracle Fruit to make food palatable again.
Perhaps the quality that separates Miracle Fruit from the long list of edible ‘cure-alls’ is the immediate effect you experience. Instead of eating a vitamin or some special recipe smoothie once a day for a month before you start feeling better, the effect of Miracle Fruit is immediate. It will work for you, your neighbor, cousin, coworker or stranger on the street. Most demonstrations involve handing an unsuspecting person a tablet to melt on their tongue then handing them a lemon slice. As soon as they bite into the lemon, the reactions range from laughter to the ever skeptical question “What did you do to that lemon?!?” We live in an age now of instant gratification and immediate feedback. Maybe it’s this quality that will finally push Miracle Fruit into the mainstream.
Miracle Fruit Farm, LLC