As I’ve mentioned previously, we moved back into the country again. It has been nice to be back in the peaceful quiet of the country. The kids and the dog have a lot of room to run and play. Eric gets to work from home. I get to plan for our tiny farm’s future.
One thing that some people have been advocating recently is “organic”. It was popular in the 70’s. It has had a steady resurgence in the past two decades. Another word that has made a comeback are the words, “heritage” and “heirloom”. This has to do with varieties of fruit and vegetables, and breeds of animals that our ancestors grew and raised.
In the 20th century, with the advent of the supermarket, owners of these stores wanted to catch the eye of the consumers with neat rows and bright colors. For example,I remember in the 80s when going to the grocery store with my mom, there being 3 main types of apples: red delicious, yellow delicious and Granny Smith. The reason for this, is that these apples are very uniform in size and bright in color. As the decades have passed, a few more varieties have found their way back into our grocery stores, but they also are uniform in size and brightly colored.
The problem with this is that some of the heirloom varieties of apples are weirdly shaped or tend to have spots. However, their flavor is beyond most of what you can get at the store. Each of the varieties are unique in flavor, varying from tart to tasting like a pineapple. In addition, some apples are better for making cider. Others are best for desserts and fresh-eating. Some store better than others. Certain kinds are unmatched for making applesauce.
When I first made my way to an on-line source that provided heirloom apples, I was like a kid on Christmas morning. I was thrilled by the literally dozens of different varieties that were there for me to peruse and dream about getting. Now, FINALLY, this week I was able to make a large order of trees for my new orchard. I didn’t buy ONE variety of apples that you can get at the store on a regular basis. I can’t wait.
And this is true of nearly every single fruit and vegetable in the grocery store, as well as most of the meat too. There are dozens of varieties of chickens, cattle, and pork that aren’t used by suppliers. Garlic alone also has dozens of varieties that the public rarely sees.
The diversity of genetics that these different varieties and breeds provide will be beneficial to our future. Decades ago, all American Chestnut trees were wiped out all over the United States. This could easily happen again with other varieties if we don’t keep options available. And there is a danger of us depleting our options. For instance, there are many types of chickens that are about to become extinct and are on the endangered list.
How can we help? Those with farms can grow the different varieties of fruit and vegetables, as well as raise an endangered breed of chicken. Those without farms can support these farms by joining a CSA or going to the local farmer’s market. Diversity is beautiful and extends to every level of life here on this planet.
If you’d like to see some on-line sources for heritage breeds and heirloom varieties, please follow the links below.:
Let’s preserve good parts of our heritage!