Have you ever heard of a Monkey Orange? How about Wild Ethiopian Coffee? Over at Nourishing the Planet they've put together a straight-forward, informative piece called Five Fruits You've Never Heard of that Are Helping to End Hunger.
A couple of our favorites:
Wild Ethiopian Coffee: Of the two globally cultivated coffee species (Coffea Arabica and Coffea Canephora)—commonly known as Arabica and Robusta—Arabica is the most admired and dominates 70 percent of all coffee production. The species naturally occurs exclusively in the isolated highland forests of Southern Ethiopia.
Best Way to Eat It: For thousands of years, people living in the Ethiopian highlands have traditionally been roasting coffee berries and grinding them in a mortar. Coffee is often served with hot water and sugar to guests as part of a ritual of hospitality and respect.
Wild Ethiopian Coffee in Action: In 2007, Slow Food International started training 64 gatherers in Herenna, Ethiopia, on improved harvesting and drying techniques. Gatherers are also trained in organizational and business skills. The goal is to help locals produce a consistent, quality product that can then be marketed worldwide as a specialty product. The added economic value will not only improve the incomes of local people, it could also help slow deforestation as gatherers become better stewards to preserve their product.
Tsamma Melon: The Tsamma Melon grows wild in the Kalahari Desert in Southern Africa. Like cacti in the deserts of North America, Tsamma melons can store large amounts of water. Tsamma melons include several varieties that range in flavor and texture.
Best Way to Eat It: Sweet varieties are eaten raw like watermelons, while the more bitter, tougher varieties are cooked over coals to soften the flesh. Traditionally, they have also been used as a standby source of water in times of drought.
Tsamma Melon in Action: Native to the desert, Tsammas are very drought-resistant, a trait many domesticated watermelons now lack. This genetic material, largely lost in commercial varieties is being used in breeding new varieties of watermelon that could help to benefit both farmers and the environment.
Image credits: Tsamma Melon, WikiCommons; Monkey Orange, UN FAO