PULP ADDICTION

Remember this musical? All that glorious dancing.

And oh, those pirouettes.

 

One of my all-time favorite numbers in this show is Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off ~ a twirly, swirly dance on wheels.

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Whether you say ‘tomato’ or  ‘tomahto’,  what passes for Lycopersicon esculentum in stores these days is a mad huge disappointment.  Unless the genetic engineers fix the tomato they have broken, I say let’s call the whole thing off.

I grow my own tomatoes and vegetables and shop the farmers’ markets for berries. I visit farm-to-table cafes and talk to locavore chefs who love to share their newfangled takes on classic, and not-so-classic, vegetables. I cannot tell a lie ~ I’m a gawker who trolls the glossy pages in Seeds of Change.

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Got a culinary obsession? I do. Tomatoes that taste like, well, tomatoes. Take the Paul Robeson Heirloom ~ a sweet and juicy award-winner, named in honor of the singer, actor and political activist.  You probably know Robeson as Stevedore Joe.

These humble heirlooms sing like Astaire in top hat and tails. They’ve grown without crossbreeding for over forty years. This is some tomahto.  🙂

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The supermarket faux-tomato is crossbred for resistance to pests and diseases, to have firm flesh and thick skin.  It’s picked when it’s green and ripened in a warehouse with ethylene gas.  Flavor? It tastes more like cardboard than fruit. Researchers have discovered one reason why: a genetic mutation, common in store-bought tomatoes, that reduces the amount of sugar and other tasty compounds in the fruit.

Farming is no Fred-and-Ginger romp ~ it’s a sweat job to take care of the land, plant the right seeds in the right places, and be the engine for the delicious revolution going on. Farmers constantly tinker with plants to improve the taste and nutrition of what we pluck from store shelves. Organically. Responsibly. Love corn? Right this minute, they’re stalking the perfect ear. That’s one detail I’m really sweet on.

I’m a sucker for a knock-down lovely vegetable but I want more than just pretty produce. While my garden sleeps, I read blogs and scour shelves for the Wholesome and Hearty. Like this mild-mannered onion with the sweet disposition.

It’s a new variety, Ever-Mild, bred in the low-sulfur soil of the Northwest. It took farmers more than twelve years of cross-pollinating different plant breeds to get it right. The first commercial batch of EverMilds — some 700,000 pounds — was raised by a farmer in Washington, home to that other seductive bulb, the Walla Walla.

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Artist Paul Cezanne said, “The day is coming when a single carrot, freshly observed, will set off a revolution.”

Sounds good to me.

Toni 10/26/12