I bet you know where I am going with this article!
I am, in fact, going to go down on my knees and beg people to buy (and subsequently grow) heirloom vegetables and fruits. I am horrified not merely by the genetic manipulation and branding of foods and seeds these days, but also by the contraction of seeds generally available to a relatively few varieties where once there were tens of thousands.
Primarily, however, I beg you to try heirloom seeds because they are oh-my-God amazing. The variety and the taste, even the appearance, are just astounding. I have had my eyes opened wide by my forays into the world of heirloom seed.
I had never realised there were so many varieties of rockmelons. Or pumpkins. Or beans. Or tomatoes (why on earth did I buy sixteen varieties of tomato seed this year? Do I actually think I am going to eat that many?).
The main reason people seem to stay away from heirloom seeds (apart from the obvious reason that they have no idea they exist) is that there seems to be a belief that they are harder to grow and less resistant to disease.
Not in my experience. I haven’t had a single problem with any of the heirloom varieties I have grown across a broad spectrum of vegetables and fruits. They have all grown up to be happy, helpful members of my kitchen garden community. They haven’t whined, complained, or drooped from unexpected susceptibilities to fungus. The amount of produce they have provided me has been an embarrassment of richness.
Fortunately most western countries now have vital and expanding heirloom seed suppliers. It is well worth your effort to hunt them out.
Remember, you do not (like supermarkets and global markets) need fruit that can survive two thousand miles of transport in a refrigerated truck. You don’t need fruit and vegetables that can survive the rough and tumble of conveyor belts and a many months’ long existence on a supermarket shelf. Your fruit and vegetables only need to survive the trip from mother plant into your kitchen, and from there straight into the pot or onto the salad plate.
That means you are in the very fortunate position of being able to enjoy the tastiest and richest variety of food – a richness and variety not available to you in shops. So grasp that opportunity, and always pick heirloom seeds above the bland, tasteless, genetically manipulated glow-in-the dark variety.