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Re: Yes, I'm a fructivist. My mission is to show you what you're missing

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  • Jim
    He should have brought the Agroforestry Research Trust into the article I think..this place stands out in this field. http://www.agroforestry.co.uk/ ...
    Message 1 of 2 , Sep 6, 2008
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      He should have brought the Agroforestry Research Trust into the
      article I think..this place stands out in this field.

      http://www.agroforestry.co.uk/


      --- In pfaf@yahoogroups.com, "Richard Morris" <mailinglists@...>
      wrote:
      >
      > George Monbiot
      > The Guardian,
      > Tuesday September 2 2008
      >
      http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/sep/02/food.foodanddrink
      >
      >
      > Yes, I'm a fructivist. My mission is to show you what you're missing
      > We have lost the sweetest of our native fruit: the only way to get
      it
      > back is to grow it - even if that means guerrilla grafting
      > All comments (132)
      >
      > o Article history
      >
      > I feel almost shy about writing this column. It contains no
      > revelations, no call to arms. No one gets savaged - well, only
      mildly.
      > The subject is almost inconsequential. Yet it has become an
      obsession
      > which, at this time of year, forbids me to concentrate for long on
      > anything else.
      >
      > Though we still subsist largely on junk, even bilious old gits like
      me
      > are forced to admit that the quality and variety of most types of
      food
      > sold in Britain has greatly improved. But one kind has deteriorated.
      > You can buy mangoes, papayas, custard apples, persimmons,
      > pomegranates, mangosteens, lychees, rambutans and god knows what
      else.
      > But almost all the fruit sold here now seems to taste the same:
      either
      > rock-hard and dry, or wet and bland. A mango may be ambrosia in
      India;
      > it tastes like soggy toilet paper in the UK. And the variety of
      native
      > fruits on sale is smaller than it has been for 200 years.
      >
      > Why? Most people believe it's because the supermarkets select for
      > appearance, not taste. This might be true for vegetables, but for
      > fruit it's evidently wrong. Green mangoes, Conference pears, unripe
      > Bramley, Granny Smith or Golden Delicious apples look about as
      > appealing as a shrink-wrapped stool. Appearance has nothing to do
      with
      > it. What counts to the retailer is how well the variety travels.
      >
      > Take the Egremont Russet, for example. It's a small apple that looks
      > like a conker wrapped in sandpaper. But it has one inestimable
      > quality. It can be dropped from the top of Canary Wharf, smash a
      > kerbstone and come to no harm. This means it can be trucked from an
      > orchard at Land's End to a packing plant in John O'Groats, via
      Sydney,
      > Washington and Vladivostock, then back to a superstore in Penzance
      > (this is the preferred route for most of the fruit sold in the UK)
      and
      > remain fit for sale. The supermarkets must have had some trouble
      > shifting it because of its strange appearance, so they promoted it
      as
      > a connoisseur's apple. Such is our suggestibility that almost
      everyone
      > believes this, even though a dispassionate tasting would show you
      that
      > it's as sweet and juicy as a box of Kleenex.
      >
      > For the same reason, we are assaulted with Conference pears, most of
      > which resemble some kind of heavy ordnance, rather than any one of a
      > hundred exquisite varieties such as the Durondeau, Belle Julie,
      > Urbaniste, Glou Morceau, Ambrosia, Professeur du Breuil or Althorp
      > Crasanne. It is because these pears are so delicious that they
      cannot
      > be marketed. They melt in the mouth, which means they would also
      melt
      > in the truck before it left the farm gate. As the best pears, plums,
      > peaches and cherries are those which go soft and juicy when ripe,
      the
      > grocers ensure that we never eat them.
      >
      > To compound the problem, the supermarkets demand that fruit is
      picked
      > long before it ripens: it doesn't soften until it rots. This makes
      > great commercial sense. It also ensures that no one in his right
      mind
      > would want to eat it. But, happily for the retailers, we have
      > forgotten what fruit should taste like. The only way to find out is
      > either to travel abroad or - the low-carbon option - to grow your
      own.
      > I find myself becoming a fruit evangelist, a fructivist, whose
      mission
      > is to show people what they are missing.
      >
      > When I lived in Oxford, at a time when allotments were underused, I
      > spent a week in the Bodleian library reading Hogg and Bull's
      > Herefordshire Pomona, a massive book of apples and pears, written in
      > the 1870s (you can now buy it on CD from the Marcher Apple Network).
      > Then I cleared two and a half plots and planted the best varieties I
      > could find. I left just as the trees were ready to fruit. But land
      > here in mid-Wales is cheap. I bought half an acre and have started
      > planting a second orchard.
      >
      > When I first tried to place an order, I caused great excitement
      among
      > the nurseries I phoned. Where had I seen these apples? Who
      recommended
      > them? Two of them, I discovered, had been extinct for at least 50
      > years. So I have had to settle for second best, by which I mean
      breeds
      > that still exist. I began by planting a Ribston Pippin and an
      > Ashmead's Kernel. These apples, both exquisite when fully ripe, can
      be
      > stored from October till May. To spread the fruit as far through the
      > year as possible, I have ordered an apple called the Irish Peach,
      > which ripens in early August; a St Edmund's Pippin (September) and a
      > Wyken Pippin (December to April). After a long search I think I have
      > pinned down the apple I once tasted and loved in a friend's garden.
      > I'm pretty confident that it was a Forfar, also know as the Dutch
      > Mignonne, so I've bought one of those too. If I'd had more space, I
      > would also have planted a Catshead, a Boston Russet, a Sturmer
      Pippin
      > and a Reinette Grise.
      >
      > I have bought two pears - a Seckle and a Beurré Rance - a green plum
      > (the Cambridge Gage), a fig, a medlar, a peach, currants,
      > gooseberries, raspberries, loganberries and blueberries. But what
      > excites me most are the suggestions made by a man called Ken Fern.
      > Once a London bus driver, Fern has spent most of his life
      cataloguing
      > and growing the edible species of fruit and vegetable which can
      > survive in this country. His list now extends to 7,000, some of
      which
      > are featured in his book Plants for a Future. I've decided to buy an
      > Arnold Thorn (Crataegus arnoldiana), which belongs to the same genus
      > as the hawthorn, but grows sweet juicy fruits the size of cherries,
      > and to replace my hedge with Elaeagnus x ebbingei, which produces
      > sweet red berries with edible seeds, in (uniquely) April and May.
      This
      > means, if it works out, that I can eat fresh fruit all the year
      round.
      > I can store apples and Beurré Rance pears until the Eleagnus fruits,
      > then my strawberries should be ready more or less when it stops. One
      > day, when I can afford it, I will buy more land and plant a few
      dozen
      > of the weird species Fern has found.
      >
      > Most people have less space than I do, but even a tiny garden can
      > support half a dozen apple trees, if you grow them as cordons
      (single
      > stems with short spurs) 80cm apart against a wall. If you have room
      > for only a couple of pots, you could grow blueberries, strawberries,
      > cranberries or some of the little shrubs Fern recommends, such as
      > Vaccinium praestans and Gaultheria shallon. Or you could become a
      > guerrilla planter or guerrilla grafter, growing fruit on roadsides,
      on
      > commons and in parks and wasteland. Apple twigs of any kind can be
      > grafted on to crab trees. Medlars and one breed of pear (a delicious
      > variety called Joséphine des Malines) can be grafted on to hawthorn.
      > Kiwi fruit, passion fruit and a vine called Schisandra grandiflora
      > will climb into trees of any kind.
      >
      > It's not just the produce I love. When you start growing fruit, you
      > enter a world of recondite knowledge, accumulated over centuries of
      > amateur experiments. You must choose the right rootstocks and
      > pollinators and learn about bees, birds and caterpillars. But above
      > all you must learn patience. Growing fruit forces you to think
      ahead,
      > to imagine a sweeter future and then to wait. Perhaps it is this, as
      > much as the forgotten flavours, that I have been missing.
      >
      > monbiot.com
      >
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