Sunday, August 09, 2009

A Dose of Reality

Nothing like disease to modify one's views. Dan Barber, an entrepreneurial restaurant owner and organic farmer near NYC, has a piece in today's Times. "Late blight" has hit tomatoes hard, apparently especially, heirloom varieties. So he writes this:
"The food community has a role to play, too — by taking another look at plant-breeding programs, another major fixture of our nation’s land-grant universities, and their efforts to develop new varieties of fruits and vegetables. To many advocates of sustainability, science, when it’s applied to agriculture, is considered suspect, a violation of the slow food aesthetic. It’s a nostalgia I’m guilty of promoting as a chef when I celebrate only heirloom tomatoes on my menus. These venerable tomato varieties are indeed important to preserve, and they’re often more flavorful than conventional varieties. But in our feverish pursuit of what’s old, we can marginalize the development of what could be new."
Mr. Barber even cites the extension people at Cornell

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