Unfortunately, a food must become trendy in order to reach it highest market potentials.
When tradition met fashion, the haroupia tree was there waiving “here I am – I taste like gourmet Cretan cocoa.”
A decade ago, if you had asked a Cretan, “have you tasted haroupia chocolate,” he would have answered: “no way! haroupia is pig food!”
Today the story has shifted dramatically the other way and haroupia fruit has become a gourmet ingredient.
The first time I met haroupia fruits, I was working in a botanic garden. I was very curious about this beautiful tree. Ceratonia siliqua is the scientific name of carob (haroupia or xylokeratia in Greek). It is a big evergreen tree in the legume family, native to Mediterranean region. In Greece it is native almost everywhere, but it is most common in Crete. It produces long pod, which can be ground, when dried, into carob powder. In the past these where used for animal feed or as food in times of famine in Greece.
Carob products are known in the context of the natural food movement, since around 1970. But in Greece this use was unfamiliar – or better unfashionable – until 2010. This is when rural economy started to invest in local products and people actually began to believe that they could make a change in the consumers’ attitudes.
Today, carob in Greece is a substitute for cocoa and chocolate, a more healthy version of them. There is a vast variety of products, as it can be used like cocoa and other ways: beverages, carob honey, spreads,
‘chocolates’, sauces, pasta, croutons, energy bars, and cosmetics!
And this is why:
A portion of carob flour (around 100 g or one cup) has only 229 calories. It is highly rich in dietary fiber (41 g), which means that only with this cup you obtain 146% your daily value for fiber! It has protein (4.8 g) and only 1% fat in contrast with cocoa, and with zero cholesterol. It is also rich in calcium (28% of your daily value), copper (66%), and potassium (18% of your daily value), and a good amount of iron (17% of your daily value). Also, it has some of the B and E vitamins and small amounts of the rest of the minerals.
But the most important thing is that it has zero caffeine – this means that it is totally safe and nutria-powered for kids and people who avoid caffeine or must limit their daily caffeine intake (i.e. pregnant women).
The haroupia-carob tree is the best example how fashion can shift a local undervalued product into something ‘exotic’ and unique – from Pappou’s dusty cellar into the hands of a highly rated instagrammer!
* The above is not medical advice but mere suggestions for improving your diet. Before reach herbal use you should consult your doctor, especially those who have health issues, are pregnant or are under the age of 6.
Evropi-Sofia Dalampira holds a PhD in Agricultural Economics and an MSc in Botany-Biology.