June2004 HeirloomTomatoes.jpg

What We Eat

Re: Heirloom tomatoes and our dependence on the humble seed. From on earth:


"Over reliance on so few food sources doesn’t just deprive us of dietary pleasure—the Roma and Beefsteak can only do so much, after all, as The New York Times pointed out today. It could also threaten our ability to feed ourselves over the long term. The lost diversity means that we have fewer resources to tap when it comes to facing down new pests and diseases, not to mention the many hazards implicit in climate change. The key to confronting these enormous challenges? The humble seed.

For thousands of years, farmers around the world have saved seeds from one season to another, taking them along when they moved to new regions and selecting those that fared best in various environments. But in the 20th century, as people began planting modern hybrid seeds—mostly to ensure higher yields and uniformity—many traditional varieties fell by the wayside and were ultimately lost altogether. Whereas farmers in this country grew some 7,100 named varieties of apples in the 19th century, for example, today only 300 of those varieties remain."

Full article here.