Inspiring Minds: Homaro Cantu

13 Feb

Homaro CantuMy first introduction to Homaro Cantu was via the Discovery Channel’s “Future Food” TV series on Planet Green.

That’s also when I first learned about the miracle berry and its ability to temporarily fool your taste buds into thinking sour and bitter foods taste sweet.

My friend Geraldine wrote about her miracle taste adventure over on the Everywhereist.com. (You may have seen me pop up over there from time to time.)

Sure, all this talk of “taste tripping” is fun and all, but what really impressed me about Homaro was his hopes for the fruit’s potential for helping people battling obesity, diabetes, cancer, and even poverty.

“I’m personally invested in this. Growing up, we didn’t have much to eat. What we did have to eat, wasn’t enough. You know, I always wanted to give back to other people, more than what I had.”

Homaro was homeless as a child and truly sees this fruit as a way to help eradicate world hunger. Imagine if a huge variety of new food options (even the weeds in your front yard) could suddenly taste delicious?

Photo courtesy of scorche, Flickr Creative Commons

Photo courtesy of scorche, Flickr Creative Commons

If that’s not lofty enough, I learned that he originally discovered the fruit while on a mission to help a friend of a friend going through chemo. The treatments were making everything taste metallic and rubbery, and she was looking for something to help her enjoy food again. (Sue struggled with this, too.)

From Homaro’s interview with the Sun Times:

“I couldn’t say no to this very personal challenge. So I went to work, chewing on tin foil and bike tires… salts to rare Amazonian leaves to pharmaceuticals… Finally, we tried the miracle berry, which is sourced from a West African plant, and it worked. We figured out a way to transfer the dehydrated fruit powder into some edible paper strips… shared it with Paula’s friend, and she enjoyed her first meal in years.”

So, if you’re keeping track, he wants to:

  • provide a cheap, tasty solution to end obesity.
  • help make life more delicious for diabetes sufferers.
  • help cancer patients eat more and enjoy life more.
  • solve world hunger.

3 Day Walk FamilyAs if all that wasn’t enough, there’s my own personal experience with Homaro. When I was helping my husband raise money for his 3-Day Walk in honor of Sue, a Chicago friend put me in touch with him. We wanted to host a miracle-berry-tasting charity event. When he found out, he didn’t just send us a pack of his miracle berry tablets. He sent a whole box… AND decorations… AND a stack of full-color tasting cards with food pairing tips. We were floored. And we had a great time with great friends making a great deal of money for a great cause.

So, if you ever have a chance to try Homaro’s mBerry tablets, his Chicago restaurants, his new “guilt-free” coffee shop, or his new miracle berry healthy alternatives cookbook: DO IT. The food will be impressive—and its mad, humanitarian food scientist, even more so.

And, Mr. Cantu, should you ever read this, THANK YOU. Your goals are inspiring, and your innovation is only matched by your heart.

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