Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Preserving the Harvest — for Generations



A couple weeks ago we went to pick up our CSA bag. Part of the week's harvest included an small melon with a light green rind. It smelled crisp and citrus. I can't even remember the name of it. As we placed it in the car, the farmer said, "Hey, be sure to save the seeds on this for me. They cost me a dollar each."

He gave my husband instructions on how to save the seeds. When my husband cut into the melon, the texture and flavor were just like the smell. It was a very interesting fruit. He did as the farmer asked, and saved the seeds. When he counted them, he said, "You know, there's like $150 in here." The next week we returned the seeds to our farmer, keeping a few to try and plant ourselves.

Seed saving has been in practice for far longer than glossy seed catalogs. For many heirloom varieties, this is the only reason they have survived and been passed along for generations. When you consider that the diversity of our food crops have been reduced by 75 percent since 1900, it really becomes critical to preserve that 25 percent we have left.

You can learn more about how to save seeds and about the history and importance of seed saving at my post for this September's Eat Local Challenge.

4 comments:

Her Grace said...

It was amazing to me, when I started visiting the farmer's market, how much I had been missing out on at the supermarket. The variety was staggering. I think that this is a part of eating locally that people don't think about. I'm glad you brought it up!

Rachel said...

thanks for the idea, Beth. I've bookmarked the Seed Institute site for when harvest time rolls 'round in Oz. Wish I could send you some of my seeds, but quarentine is a good thing..

Bettina Stern said...

Browsing the Eat Local Challenge, I found your blog. I thought that you might be interested in our website Loulies which has two features: (1) "e-bites" which are sent out , on average, twice a week via email. The are short musings on anything and everything inspired by food and always include a great recipe, must-have tip, menu idea, new ingredient discovered etc. You must sign-up to receive the e-bites. (2) A Cook the Book club for those who want to learn to cook better with us (like a traditional book club, but we cook instead of read - this is how Suzanne and I met over 10 years ago and have learned to cook better with friends - it is really a great concept).

Please go to our website and sign-up to gain a better sense of who we are and how our site works. Everything we have written so far is archived on our home page.

Bettina
http://loulies.com/local_foods

The Expatriate Chef said...

Thanks, everyone. Grace, you got that right. More and more farmers are getting excited about heirloom varieties. Not just heirloom tomatoes, but squashes and eggplants, etc. You can't find these at the store. The fact that there is demand for this variety will help keep it growing, and keep our food crops diverse. We all benefit.