Judging by its price, it looks like papaya season has started. And judging by the little smiley face on the sign below, it looks like this fruit store at the corner of Geary and Leavenworth is quite happy about it.

Photo by Tenderblog

Out of curiosity I checked the Wikipedia page for papaya and I discovered a bunch of fun trivia that was new to me. For example, did you know that:

  • Green papaya fruit and the tree’s latex are both rich in an enzyme called papain, which is useful in tenderizing meat and other proteins. Its ability to break down tough meat fibers was utilized for thousands of years by indigenous Americans. It is included as a component in powdered meat tenderizers, and is also marketed in tablet form to remedy digestive problems.
  • Papain is also popular (in countries where it grows) as a topical application in the treatment of cuts, rashes, stings and burns. Harrison Ford was treated for a ruptured disc incurred during filming of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom by papain injections.
  • Women in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and other parts of the world have long used green papaya as a folk remedy for contraception and abortion. Unripe papaya is especially effective in large amounts or high doses.
  • The black seeds are edible and have a sharp, spicy taste. They are sometimes ground up and used as a substitute for black pepper.
  • In some parts of Asia the young leaves of papaya are steamed and eaten like spinach. In parts of the world papaya leaves are made into tea as a preventative for Malaria, though there is no real scientific evidence for the effectiveness of this treatment.
  • Papaya is frequently used for hair conditioner but should be used in small proportions.

The things one learns in the interwebs…