Berry lets chemo patient enjoy food again

Monica Faison-Finch, going through chemo therapy always complained that her water tasted like rusty pennies and the pepperoni pizza like metallic cardboard. This is a common occurrence among cancer patients. It can be a detrimental time for people who are suffering from cancer and not even being able to enjoy their food makes it even worse. After trying a fruit named the miracle fruit, however, it all changed for her.

"When I tried the miracle fruit before my meal, my life changed," said Faison-Finch, who was being treated for cervical cancer. "It was like the first time I had tasted food in about five or six weeks. It was like I was having my first meal."

Miracle fruit (Synsepalum dulcificum), which grows on a small emerald tree, is a red berry native to Ghana. People have known for centuries that eating the tiny tropical fruit, the size of a large jelly bean, affects the way food tastes. Scientists say the fruit binds the taste receptors on the tongue.

Homestead brothers Erik and Kris Tietig, owners of the Miracle Fruit Farm in Redland in South Dade, have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of miracle fruit to cancer patients at local hospitals, charity organizations and research universities since 1972.

"We are called and visited by people in one of the hardest times of their life," said Erik Tietig, 40. "When we're able to help them with the miracle fruit, mask that metallic sensation and actually enjoy a meal, it's really a small victory."

They know that they can't cure the patients with the tiny fruits but they hope that at least during their rough time they can at last find solace in good food.


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