Americans, after decades of being deprived of access to all 100% of nature's bounty, are now, finally, gaining the ability to buy any fruit produced anywhere in the world. Over the past few years, the US market has eagerly adopted Vietnamese dragonfruit, Brazilian açai and Thai mangosteen. The past few weeks have added yet another coveted fruit to the mix: Pakistani mangoes, which some claim are the sweetest, most delicious in the world.
The mangoes, which have hit shelves in Chicago and New York, and are also sold on pksweetmangoes.com, are expected to be popular in Pakistani expat communities and among adventurous fruit connoisseurs of all nationalities. This is despite their prohibitively high cost: $60 for a box of six fruits. Prices are so high because of the mangoes' scarcity, novelty and high cost of transportation.
The mangoes taste so good that their long-awaited entrance into US markets could even have political implications. Secretary Clinton allegedly used their potential legalization as a bargaining chip in diplomatic negotiations with Pakistan last summer, and they are being heralded as a sign of renewed goodwill between the US and Pakistan.
Pakistani mangoes, like the other newcomers to American produce aisles, was banned for a variety of reasons. The most pressing was the threat of pests. Agriculture officials had feared that allowing foreign tropical fruits into the US could endanger the health of produce grown here. According to a USDA publication from December 2008, before the introduction of the Pakistani mango, the following fruits are irradiated before importation: "irradiated mangoes from India; litchis, longan, rambutans, pineapples, mangoes, and mangosteen from Thailand; dragon fruit from Vietnam; and guavas from Mexico."CORRECTION:
An earlier version of this story stated that most imported fruits are irradiated. We have corrected that information to include a list of those fruits that are.