Carica papaya (Papaya)
Caricaceae | Culinary
Central and South America
Shrub or tree, 5 to 10 m
Papaya is a popular food for locals in Hawaii, as well as some Asian countries. Usually once the fruit is ripe, it’s cut in half, its seeds are removed, then the fruit is scooped out from the skin like a bowl. Green, or unripe, papaya is shredded and used in green papaya salad. The leaves also contain a protein that can tenderize meat.
After a virus called papaya ringspot completely devastated Hawaii’s papaya crops in the 1990s, scientists worked to engineer a genetically modified (GMO) papaya that would be resistant to disease. Nowadays, most papayas grown in Hawai‘i are genetically modified.