Edible Memory: The Lure of Heirloom Tomatoes and Other Forgotten Foods
By Jennifer A. Jordan
This book is well-worth a read! Check out an excerpt from the book here. And for some of our favourite parts:
There are many motivations for seeking out heirloom varieties: not only for flavor, novelty, resilience, and the preservation of biodiversity, but because of childhood memories of eating particular fruits and vegetables, or shared stories of a specific seed, tuber, or graft. Many seed savers see themselves as stewards, not only of their own family memories but of the shared stories and genetic codes contained within these plants. This kind of recollection works against collective forgetting and the widespread disappearance of so many agricultural plants and animals. Old localized, traditional varieties of plants and animals fell (or were pushed) out of everyday use as agriculture became increasingly large scale, industrialized, and standardized, relying on ever fewer varieties in order to achieve the high levels of uniformity and predictability expected not only by stockholders but also by grocery store shoppers. The loss of biodiversity also means a broader form of forgetting. These genes connect many people to the past, to the ways people gardened, farmed, and raised livestock in their own families or in far-off places. The genotypes of heirloom varieties—of Tennessee fainting goats or of the Abraham Lincoln or Arkansas Traveler tomatoes—speak both to particular genetic arrangements and to specific times and places, as responses to short growing seasons or rocky soil.
Why do you think memory and nature are related to each other? Are we just obsessing over these things? (And even if we are…the indulgent side of me likes to think, “so what? maybe that’s the point”).