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Heritage Veggies

Ever since my sister gave me my first Moosewood cookbook, I've been hungrily curious about heritage fruits and vegetables. Before this summer is over, I'd like to seek out some good local farmer's markets and see if I can't sample some. From all I've read, they're more interesting, and more flavorful than the fruits and vegetables you can buy in the grocery store, whose primary virtues lie in being pretty and easily transportable.

When I was at home for a week earlier this summer, I talked to someone about them, and they mentioned that there's a selection for sale every Thursday afternoon in front of the Art House café on Ingersoll, if those of you in Des Moines want a venue for trying them. I know the Art House promotes them, since last year my parents went to a dinner there featuring all courses with heritage tomatoes. Alas, my trip was short enough I never made it down there to buy any when I could.

Cronaca recently posted on the subject in Britain, where it is generally illegal to sell heritage fruits and veggies because the breeds are not stable, nor registered with the government for a fee of 1000 pounds, a bit much for a local grower. The seeds are not illegal to give away, and they can be legally grown in Britain, but lack of ability to legally sell them does put a major damper on the market. The article that Cronaca cites is here.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 22nd, 2003 06:51 am (UTC)
When and if you visit
There is a farmer's market withing walking (or kayaking) distance of my house, and a lot of the local farmers are people who are interested in heritage crops-- I think many of them are suppliers for the Moosewood restaurant, actually. In any case, you're welcome to use my kitchen to try out any fun local produce. There's also an organic grocery store nearby that probably has some of the smaller but really flavorful tomatoes and such (I go there because a local beekeeper sells wax from his hive, and it's the most wonderful-smelling beeswax I've ever come across-- kind of spicy and heady)
Aug. 22nd, 2003 07:07 am (UTC)
Is this some kind of cult I don't know about? Moosewood? heritage?

I knew it.
You're in a cult.
Aug. 23rd, 2003 07:48 am (UTC)
Re: hmm
Given the choice of all the cults there are, I rather like the idea of being in a tasty fruit and veggie cult.
Aug. 23rd, 2003 08:20 am (UTC)
Re: hmm
I'm all about the Twinkie cult, myself.

but really, what is a heritage veggie?
Aug. 23rd, 2003 08:43 am (UTC)
Re: hmm
I don't know what the technical definition is, but they're all the fruits and veggies which aren't commercially grown on a large scale. Large-scale commercial operations only grow a few of the hundreds of variants which exist for any given type of fruit or veggie.

In other words, they comprise all the genetic diversity of all the natural variants of fruits and veggies. Purple tomatoes. Striped green peppers. Extra-large misshapen zucchini. (I'm making most of these up, but they give you the right idea.) But even beyond the visual variants, the main reason they attract so much attention is that the most popular of the heritage veggies and fruits are far more tasty and interesting to eat than anything you can buy in the grocery store.
Aug. 25th, 2003 11:27 am (UTC)
Umm, love those heritage tomatoes. They're weird-looking, but the taste is so much better than your average grocery tomato...think a vine-ripened plum tomato, times 5.

My aunt is really interested in them, orders seeds from a catalog and grows several varieties of her own. They're totally worth the time and effort. I can get the name of the catalog for you, if you like.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )