Heirloom fruits and vegetables:
Today we have access to dozens of seed catalogues, not to mention healthy greenhouse plants from many sources each spring.
That has not always been true. There was a time when much of the food people ate came from their own gardens. Each fall the gardeners would save the seed from the best tasting and hardiest plants.
These seeds were handed down from generation to generation like a valuable family heirloom. The selection process favored tasty fruits and vegetables, with thin skins and appealing culinary properties. From this process we get what are called "heirloom" varieties.
Most seed companies today sell to a group of people who have different priorities than those gardeners of old did. People who order large quantities of seeds today tend to be big producers. These producers need consistently sized and shaped vegetables and fruits that can be handled and packed by machines.
They need a product that will stand up to the abuse of riding on a truck or a train clear across the continent. This requires a thick skin and a lower liquid content.
The seed companies are in business to sell seeds. They breed seeds that deliver what their biggest customers need. The sensual delight of extraordinary produce is not a priority.
It really isnt anyone's fault, each party is doing what makes sense for them in the food chain that we have. But we are loosing much of the genetic diversity that has built up in our food supply over thousands of years.
This loss leaves us without much of the flavor that our ancesters enjoyed in their food. Perhaps more importantly it leaves us without the protection from a disasterous disease or pest outbreak that diversity brings. Industrial agriculture has accidently put us all in peril.
Fortunately, there are still people who remember what good food is all about. Many heirloom seed companies are in business now. Though they tend to be small, and often family run, they are our best bets for truely heavenly food. These are the people from whom I buy seed.
Some food is just better. Like the Forex beans pictured at the right. There are varieties of almost every catagory of vegetable and fruit that are more flavorful, have better texture and are more visually appealing than most others.
These are the criteria that I use to select the varieties that I make available to my customers.
Your imput is always welcome. If you find a specific variety to be a culinary mastepiece please let me know. If you have a variety that you prefer I would love to know. I always strive to make food available to you that is superior to what you can get anywhere else.