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Extract from The Ambrosia Project – the pomelo

Zoe sat at her keyboard, writing a new piece for her blog. This time she had chosen pomelos as her theme. She knew they weren’t exactly mainstream, that avoiding pomelos wouldn’t necessarily be a hardship for most people, but there were only so many times she could write about potatoes. And she had a gap to fill; she’d messaged Sue, the insect professor and had no response, not yet anyway, but she was certain Sue would reply. Everyone wanted free publicity, didn’t they? Although there was a chance, now she thought about it, that the Zoom call with Adrian might have put Sue off. If she didn’t hear from her in a day or two, she’d try again, but maybe include a link to her blog. Just so Sue could see how much real science she used in it.

‘Citrus Maxima,’ she cooed aloud, as she began to write. Who’d have ever thought she’d get good at Latin, a language only spoken by dead people? She’d been prompted by Rosa’s pomelo salad, her latest TV creation, which was trending on Twitter, a salad which also included brussels sprouts, shallots and star anise, all ingredients with lurking secrets Zoe could reveal. Zoe had also noticed that Rosa prided herself on not wasting anything. She had this crass mantra, Be a user not a loser, which she would roll out at least once per episode, replete with her trademark toss of the head. On this occasion, that honour had been bestowed on the pomelo seeds, which Rosa had advocated using to thicken jam, stringing together to make an impromptu necklace or enclosing within two bio-degradable yoghurt pots to make a shaker.

Many people who had watched the show were lauding the pomelo’s health benefits: boosting the immune system, aiding weight loss and its anti-aging properties; the 2021 triumvirate of the food sector. Of course, they tried to distance it from the grapefruit – devil of the diabetics – in a number of ways. They maintained ‘it’s less sour’ or ‘it’s the natural citrus fruit, genus Maximus, where grapefruit is the sub-tropical hybrid,’ or the very obvious difference, ‘its sheer size’ – a feature which Rosa herself had mentioned, with a suggestive pout. But it was all semantics. They were pretty much one and the same.

When your doctor tells you not to eat grapefruit, because it will interfere with your blood thinners or your blood pressure medication or your cholesterol-busting statins, he ought to mention these critters too. And if you’re pregnant? Don’t even peel one! Zoe wrote, admiring her ability to acknowledge, but deftly recalibrate, the discussion.

But how to move on from this? She’d targeted ill people and pregnant women, two of her most vociferous support groups. Now she needed another focus. Lips pursed with concentration, she trawled the internet. After a few minutes, she paused, her eyes widening. ‘Gotcha,’ she murmured.

Research proves that menopausal women who eat pomelo, are at 25% higher risk of developing breast cancer, owing to its ability to increase oestrogen levels.

The study she found had been conducted on grapefruit, but no one would know if she substituted one for the other. And ‘menopausal women’ was a huge potential target audience, except, as she began to write the word ‘menopausal’ her fingers froze. People weren’t comfortable with that word, she decided, with its negative connotations. She could substitute ‘women over 40’ pretty safely, she thought. Although maybe she shouldn’t limit it to just women, given all that JK Rowling row about menstruation – another word to avoid at all costs. Funny that the two words had ‘men’ at the beginning, but they were both about women. There, she’d just use ‘over 40s’. If she could only find something negative for children now, then her work would be complete. Another half hour and she had decided on the next bullet point.

Whilst pomelo is a good source of dietary fibre, more than one cup (when you don’t want too much scrutiny, always use the cup measurement. No one has a clue what size that is, she thought) can cause bloating, stomach cramps and diarrhoea, particularly in children and young adults. This, in turn, can lead to dehydration and nutrient deficiency.

Phew. Done! Zoe stretched out her shoulders and stiff back. She stood up, went into the kitchen and drank two glasses of cold water in rapid succession. Writing her blog was seriously hard work. Picking up her messages was less taxing and, on occasion, rather good fun. Settling back down on the sofa, she began to read her incoming mail on her phone.

Published inmy journeyTeaser