But what was really sacrificed was flavor. The flavor difference between a grocery store tomato or even most locally grown tomatoes compared to the tomatoes my grand-parents ate is astronomical. Even if you decide to not join our CSA, we invite you to taste our tomatoes side-by-side with your local farm market tomatoes. The taste difference will astonish you!
It was the heirloom movement that began in the with companies like Seed Savers Exchange in 1975 that really brought to light to the loss of so many varieties. They tirelessly sought to save lost and dying varieties before it was too late. Today, there a many varieties available to farmers and home gardeners that without companies like them that would have long been extinct.
To be a little personal, I don't remember my grandfather ever buying a seed. He tirelessly saved seed every fall and planted those seeds in the spring. I don't know, nor do I think he knew, any of the variety names. But what I remember is the flavor! I mean, I used to tell him that I when I was young I thought he watered with sugar water because his corm was so sweet, tomatoes so flavorful and his vegetables so good and looked so unlike anything I had ever seen.
So here's my point. My entire life I have grown, tested, tasted and experienced heirloom varieties. I am a firm believer that food should taste good, not necessarily look like what the advertising agencies say food is supposed to look like. Taste a tomato with cracks at the top and is odd shaped, find a bean that has brown spots, eat a lettuce that will wilt in a few days. And for goodness sakes, eat a fresh organic berry that was picked today. You will be amazed at the difference!
Not to give away Farmer Jeff's age (ok, so I am 53), but when I was young we could only get strawberries and June, Blueberries in July and peaches in August. Go to your local grocery store and you can get each of these year round. While that is great to get everything year round, we give up flavor for access.
We say "We Grow for Flavor" because we love to eat good food. We could take the easy way out and grow modern hybrids designed to resist disease, have thick skins, travel great distances, and sit on shelves for weeks. It would be so much easier for us.
But I don't want to eat that way. And I am betting you feel the same way.
Flavor is key. Lack of diversity is the killer of flavor.
And chemicals are another story altogether, But that's for another post.