United States residents are extraordinarily lucky in terms of their culinary options. People can have authentic Swedish food for breakfast, Thai food for lunch, and West African food for dinner. But did you know that there are some fruits that are banned in the US? Let’s take a look at five species that you’re not about to find at your supermarket any time soon.
1. West Indian Locust Fruits
These fruits are native to the Caribbean, as well as South and Central America. They have a very unique fragrance, and you can eat their pulp raw, or cooked and mixed into other foods. Other fruits from those areas are welcome in the United States with a phytosanitary certificate, but these seem to get stopped at the border.
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2. Mirabelle Plums
You know how real champagne is only brewed in France’s Champagne region? Well, the only real Mirabelle plums grow in Lorraine, France. These juicy, apricot-colored gems are protected by a special trade agreement, which prohibits them from being exported overseas.
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3. Certain Tomatoes
There are obviously (literally) tons of tomatoes grown in and imported into the US every year. The ones that are imported come from Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Canada, because they’re banned in the US if they come from literally anywhere other than those three countries. Don’t even try to bring seeds in unless you have an approved certificate.
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4. Fresh Ackee Fruits
If you live in the US, you’ve probably seen canned ackee fruit in the Caribbean section of your local grocery store. That said, you won’t find them fresh unless you head down to Jamaica, Haiti, or Belize. They’re banned in the United States because although they’re delicious when fully ripe, they can kill you if you eat them fresh before they’ve ripened.
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5. Honorable Mention: Purple Mangosteen
These Southeast Asian fruits are startlingly tasty. They’re also banned unless they’ve been irradiated. This is to kill off any fruit flies that may be tagging along, as the FDA worries that those flies may start breeding like… er, flies. The FDA and WHO consider irradiated foods to still be healthy, but caveat emptor. Do your own research and determine whether you feel comfortable eating foods that have been exposed to radiation this way.
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You will, of course, be able to taste all of these fruits if you visit their country of origin. Sure, an Italian tomato will probably taste very similar to the kind you’ll find at your neighborhood fruit stand, but perfect, ripe, sweet ackee or mangosteen will be a delightful flavor to enjoy.
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Just as a note: if you’re travelling and don’t know for sure whether you can bring fruit into the country in your bag, check the USDA list for requirements. It’s always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to going through customs.