I often get a hankering for fruit, but I seldom carry it with me because I feel bad about bruised and mangled fruit. Thus the beauty of dried fruit ... except that usually the emphasis seems to be on DRIED. But salvation arrived in a sample package sent to my office: Mango Vivo, a dried-fruit company that makes absolutely delectable dried mango, pineapple, papaya, and bananas. No added sweeteners or preservatives; nothing but the fruit (except a little natural citric acid on the bananas to keep them from turning completely brown). They grow the fruit in Costa Rica and Brazil, offering workers a living wage, social benefits package, even housing when needed. And their processes are eco-friendly, most often with a zero carbon footprint. But as with all food products, it's the taste and texture that hooked me.
Using a top-secret drying process, the fruit slices are moist and the flavor is perfect -- and I'm a tropical fruit fanatic (my friends know that mangoes are one of my two favorite foods), so I'm picky. Mango Vivo's products even qualify as raw/living foods. They're working on Hawaiian-style papayas; says Ric Goodman, U.S. director of operations, "I am excited to be able to offer our industry an all natural papaya product that is not only environmentally positive, but will be dried at less than 100 degrees F. Nutritionists and dieticians will go nuts."
Right now, Mango Vivo products are available in Earth Fare stores, as well as natural products and specialty stores on the Atlantic coast, New England, Ohio, Illinois, and Tennessee. Hopefully they'll make it out West in the near future (Whole Foods, listen up!).