Beauty in grocery store vegetables is often only skin deep. Wonderful tasting heirloom tomatoes are often ugly, comparatively. But a feast for the eyes is not always a banquet for the taste buds or satisfaction for the tummy.
Noticed any lumpy, bumpy tomatoesin your produce department lately? Probably not. Sometimes called “ugly tomatoes,” they’re typically older, heirloom varieties that aren’t often sold in grocery stores. And that’s too bad, because if you’ve ever eaten one, you know, heirlooms are loaded with their own rich, meaty taste.
For a long time, heirloom tomatoes, along with many other older varieties of fruits and vegetables, almost vanished from our grocery stores and gardens. They gave way to hybrid varieties that were developed for better resistance to many diseases and for the ability to withstand the long haul from faraway locales where fruits and vegetables can be grown during what is off-season elsewhere. Grocers wanted peaches and pears that wouldn’t spoil quickly, and truckers needed easy-to-stack, oblong watermelons, instead of the kind that rolled around like bowling balls. And, thanks to hybrids, those of us who don’t like the “burp” in old-fashioned cucumbers, can now grow or buy mild cukes instead.
Heirlooms may have disappeared from the commercial trade, but they are still available. More Americans are concerned about their quality of food and are beginning to grow their own. You can even learn to save your own seed, so you won’t need to buy seed every spring. Or you can even get seed that is packaged for long term storage and will last in the freezer for 50 years with good germination rates. Check out www.downtoearthseeds.com