Jul 2008

Vegetation Profile: "Special" Pitaya

A genetically modified organism (GMO) or genetically engineered organism (GEO) is an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. These techniques are generally known as recombinant DNA technology. With this technology, DNA molecules from different sources are combined into one molecule to create a new set of genes. This DNA is then transferred into an organism and causes the organism to acquire modified or novel traits.

The “novel trait” in this case is magenta flesh. Rumor has it, the new pitaya innards have a bit more flavor than the original model. I admit that these revamped fruits look really cool, but something about fiddling around with DNA molecules just doesn’t feel right. Maybe one of these days I’ll throw my principles out the window and try one.

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7 thoughts on “Vegetation Profile: "Special" Pitaya

  1. I don’t remember ever seeing dragon fruit in 1968-69, but it has been ubiquitous in all my latest trips. Interesting that it comes from Mexico. Spicy peppers from Mexico were traded into Asia by the Spanish and Portuguese, and took deep root among the Thais, Khmers, and Southern and Central Vietnamese, so much that the modern inhabitants of these countries just assume that spicy peppers were always a staple of their cuisine. As least the japalenos, cayenne, habanero, and other peppers travelled well. Black and white pepper corns coming to the west did not fare so well. I’ve never found either white or black ground pepper in the West that has the spicy kick of its Southeast counterpart. Thus, every trip to Vietnam always results in a kilo of black and white peppercorns in our return baggage.

  2. I love the look of this beautiful fruit, however i must admit it does not have much flavour. And it costs a fortune here in Europe! It is good to decorate your dessert plate to wow your guests but not for the flavour!

  3. No genetic engineering going on here – just different species of dragon fruit. The white-fleshed Hylocereus undatus is most common in Vietnam. The red-fleshed Hylocereus costaricensis is native to Costa Rica, and more commonly found in Central and South America.

  4. It is also very popular in Shanghai. I thought it was a little bland but I had no one to ask what the true flavor should be like.

  5. lirelou – I totally agree about the black pepper. The stuff here is so fragrant and well, peppery 😉

    Noah – The Astronomer did a bit of research on the FAO website: “Two cultivars, namely Binh Thuan and Cho Gao, are commonly grown in Vietnam. SOFRI has successfully bred the red-fleshed cultivar with the local ones, resulting in some outstanding clones of red-fleshed dragon fruit. It is expected this red-fleshed cultivar will be released for production within two years.” So i guess they’re more cross-breeds than pure GMOs, but there was definitely science involved.

    Sari – dragon fruits are like Miss Universe contestants — all looks and no substance 😉

    Anton – Hola!

    JSC – I think dragon fruit are naturally pretty bland. A squeeze of lime juice does wonders.

  6. The red pitaya is delicious an healty. Here in Brazil, we have a small snd organic farm of pitaya and some tons to sale.

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