Heirloom foods give spice to life

Published 6:25pm Tuesday, January 14, 2014

My fiddle teacher has an apple tree on his land that gives taste to the sweetest, most delicious apples ever put in a human mouth. They’re rugged looking little things, tiny, with brown stains stretching across their dark red skins.
In a grocery store, folks might not give them a second look, because they neither glisten nor glow. Biting into one sends a shiver of satisfaction flowing through every pore in a person’s body.
Heirloom foods taste better than the other kinds.
Taste Old Timey oakleaf mustard greens, rough bark candy roaster squash, Pungo Creek Indian corn, wild mountain muscadine, cathead queen apples, Green Mountain Potatoes.
Central and southern Appalachia gives home to 1,412 place-based heirloom foods, and a well-written, informative report recently emerged from the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, available at www.sare.org/Learning-Center/Project-Products/Southern-SARE-Project-Products/Place-Based-Foods-of-Appalachia.
Heirloom foods matter. They represent diversity, and quite frankly, they plain flat-out taste better. Anyone with a little garden plot can try a few seeds there, so when the spring comes along, instead of grabbing generic seed packets of the kind found easily at the hardware store or the grocery store, take a few minutes and grab up something that grows best and easily in these 600 million year old Appalachian mountains.
Keep unique flavors alive.Those 1,412 varieties include 353 types of heirloom apples, 464 types of heirloom squash and 62 kinds of heirloom tomatoes.
Heirloom tomatoes grow easily, and each tomato has a distinctive, flavorful personality. A deep, colorful Cherokee purple tomato and the adorable green and white zebra stripe taste nothing alike.
People with well-developed palates and sensitive taste buds will find that a whole world of wonder awaits on their plates once they begin the discovery of heirloom foods.
Getting away from the bland, mass-produced foods in our culture and recapturing the deep flavors and diversity of an earlier time also allows gardeners and farmers to individualize and grow in new ways, without threat from big companies.
Best of all, heirloom foods make life more delicious.
- Kiesa Kay, reporter Tryon Daily Bulletin

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