As America’s highway system expanded and its food-distribution infrastructure changed, so did our produce. Large commercial growers favored fruit and vegetable varieties that looked visually attractive and traveled best over homely, delicate breeds with better flavor and texture. Hence, the ubiquity of the Red Delicious apple, with its flawless, lustrous skin—and bland, Styrofoam-like flesh. Fortunately, several organizations are working to protect the diversity of America’s crops and give home gardeners the chance to taste the country’s culinary past. Just across the border, near Decorah, Iowa, Seed Savers Exchange runs one of the largest non-governmental seedbanks in the United States along with a farm where heritage seeds are collected, grown, and shared. This spring, skip the supermarket’s flavorless-but-even-hued tomatoes and plant a heirloom Cherokee Purple, Nebraska Wedding, or Brandywine.
Seed Savers Exchange
Find Seed Savers Exchange retail racks at local co-ops and gardening stores, or visit the Iowa headquarters, which opens its doors for the 2013 growing season on March 1.
3074 N. Winn Rd., Decorah, Iowa, 563-382-5990, seedsavers.org