It never ceases to amaze me how many people I talk to that have never even heard of heirloom tomatoes. (Cue Elaine on Seinfeld: “Get! OUT!“)
When I was living in Phoenix and Los Angeles—and even back in good ol’ Massachusetts—any time I found heirlooms on sale, I’d pick up a couple. Even the cashiers (who frankly, should know a thing or two about produce) would ask me about them. “So, what are they exactly? Are they good?”
ARE THEY GOOD?!? (Do I need to link to the Seinfeld clip again?) I usually have a sweet little chuckle before I answer. “Oh ho ho ho … yes,” I tell them. “As sweet as fruit, flavorful, a hearty texture … These will change your mind about tomatoes [insert dramatic pause] forever!”
If they inquire further, I’ll mention how heirlooms will save you a fortune in both calories and money spent on expensive salad dressing. These babies need a dash of salt and pepper, maybe a hint of evoo or balsamic, and tah DAH!!
After I educate the uninformed that heirloom is sort of a fancy way of saying “wild” it seems to clear their confusion. Of course, the real definition of heirloom plants and veggies, and how biodiversity works in general, is a much larger conversation. One I’m not getting into in the check out lane at Stop & Shop. But what really blows their minds is when you tell them that there used to be 408 varieties of tomatoes just over a hundred years ago. And now there are 79. And tomatoes are not alone (click here to see how plant diversity is disappearing.)
Saving endangered species of animals is a no-brainer that the populace rallies around. Well, we need to save plants, too!!! What can we do besides buy these beauties at our local farmers’ markets and grocery stores? We can SAVE THE SEEDS!!! If you’d like to help out, connect with an heirloom seed network and start growing!
So join me and spread the seed of heirlooms … literally! Grow them, eat them, share them. It’s a win-win-win and yet another great way to feel like you’re doing your part, as well as reaping some of the sweet yummy benefits.