Book Review for Paw Paw: In Search of America’s Forgotten Fruit by Andrew Moore

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The long quiet nights of winter are an ideal time to catch up on books. Last week I finally indulged myself and devoured Paw paw after yearning to read it for months.  For anyone with even a moderate interest in native plants, wild foods, agriculture, culinary curiosities and all the intersecting cultural elements of this continent this book is a must read.

Paw Paw reads like a story, a conversation even at times with an old friend as the author recounts his travels and experiences across the paw paw belt. It is quirky, personalable, engaging, insightful and deeply inspiring book. Moore weaves a tapestry that connects this unique fruit and the culture surrounding it across it’s native range from past to present and into the future.

Paw Paw is more than a fruit as it strikes some deep resonant chord for many paw paw nuts that fall in love with this delightful and enticing plant. I count myself in that camp, and if you’re not already intrigued by this wonderful native fruit this book will certainly nudge you in that direction.

Paw Paw introduces some of the most prominent folks in the paw paw realm and the work that is going on from foraging, to decades of breeding work, to festivals celebrating the fruit and even an orchard that specializes in mail order fruit for gourmet markets. Moore leaves no stone unturned (expect perhaps the technical details for cultivating the fruit) as he recounts his travelling tales and adventures while collecting information through conversations and library archives, sampling a range of wild and cultivated fruits, tasting the food and drinks made with the fruit and meeting the diverse group of paw paw aficionados that are described as being “off the round”… just like the fruit itself.

How a fruit that is native to 26 states, boasts the largest size of any native North American fruit, tastes, smells and looks distinctly tropical is not the lauded and highlighted throughout the country eludes answering. Although the author posits and speculates on how and why paw paws are not more popular and exhibits the many examples of this fruit indeed making a comeback.

The paw paw is a unique species that beckons to be explored. While the fruit is the most obvious example of human usage, so too has the bark been used as cordage and baskertry material. Perhaps the most significant discovery that the plant itself is a very effective cancer medicine. Extracts of the twigs contain high level of annonaceous acetogens that inhibit cancer shells by shutting down their ATP production and inducing apoptosis. This represents a major potential for homegrown, non-patentable healthful cancer cure that address multi drug resistant cancers without major side effects.

Do yourself a favor and read Paw Paw by Andrew Moore. If you haven’t fallen in love with paw paws yet, what are you waiting for?

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