[NAFEX] feral apples/heirlooms

Tom Olenio tolenio at sentex.net
Mon May 3 11:32:00 EDT 2004

Hello All,

I guess it boils down to what you are looking for.  If you are looking for ease of management, lower costs,
shipability, and storage look towards the modern apples.  If you are looking for other qualities, seek heirloom

However, keep in mind that heirlooms were bred at a different time, with different priorities.  They were not
shipped around the world.  The number of sprays was very limited (if any).  Eye appeal in the store was not
paramount, as people did not expect perfect fruit.  Apples were a local thing.  They were picked when ripe, and
only competed against other local apples.

In short, the balance was swung the other way towards taste and texture, moreso than today.

Different times, with different economic priorites, and technologies have very different results.

If I was a mass producer of apples my priorites would be very different from the backyard orchardist, only
trying to please myself.

I would not try to compare a McDonald's hamburger with the high quality, localy run, family, burger joint.  It
is not fair to either party as the priorities are very different.  If I want a quick burger, on the run I hit
McDonalds and eat what I get.  If I want to really enjoy the hamburger I hit the local burger joint. (assuming
you are lucky enough to have good, small hamburger place local).  But like heirloom apples, they are getting
harder to find.


road's end farm wrote:

> On Monday, May 3, 2004, at 12:17 AM, Lisa Almarode wrote:
> > There's a certain amount of, hmm, value or cachet
> > given to heirlooms: vegetables, chicken or sheep
> > breeds, roses, etc.  Often cited is that modern
> > varities have had the
> > flavor/hardiness/scent/uniqueness
> > bred out of them in search of shipability/fast
> > growth/high production/perfect blossoms/uniformity,
> > i.e. that mass production breds characteristics that
> > are desireable for the mass producers, but not
> > necessarily for the home grower/small producers.
> > Also, that heirlooms tend to be are adapted to a
> > particular climate and therefore less suitable for
> > national marketing, but possibly more suitable for
> > local use.
> >
> > When it comes to fruit, would you experts say this
> > tradeoff holds true?  I do get the urge to grow
> > heirlooms (tomatoes and livestock as well as
> > fruit), but it's a little silly to grow macintosh in
> > this area, I think... hmm, as I recall Hudson's Golden
> > Gem is from southern oregon.
> >
> Don't know that I'm an expert, but . . .
> It's my experience, at least with tomatoes, that best flavor is very
> location-dependent; a variety that produces excellent flavor on one side
> of the hill may be mediocre on the other, let alone in an entirely
> different climate. It's also my experience that many modern varieties
> (not all) do seem to have been bred for characteristics other than
> flavor, texture, and nutrition; that not everyone has the same
> priorities for what they feel most important in a fruit; and that not
> everyone agrees as to what is the best flavor. (I find it's not unusual,
> if for instance I'm asking customers for opinions on relative flavor of
> three different strawberry varieties, to find that there's massive
> disagreement; the variety rated worst by one person may be rated best by
> somebody else.)
> Heirlooms in particular may be best suited for specific places, and one
> that's in a spot it's well suited to may outperform a modern variety
> bred for adequate performance all over the country. It may however do
> far worse than that modern variety in a spot it's not suited for. And
> it's certainly true that some old varieties have been greatly improved
> upon over the years; just as it's true that some modern varieties have
> been bred entirely for shippability and production, you can dribble them
> like a basketball without visible bruises but they taste about the same
> as one.
> I'd recommend talking to your neighbors (and if possible to former
> owners of your land); reading descriptions from varying sources; and
> then using trial-and-error on your own place to select among varieties
> that sound interesting to you. Heirlooms or moderns isn't an either-or
> choice; you can try some of both. If something tastes terrible to you,
> or always gets eaten by something else, or produces mostly mold spores
> to infect the others, take it back out. This is of course a
> time-consuming process; but I can think of lots worse things to be here
> for.
> One other note, applicable both to heirlooms and to "new" varieties,
> many of which disappear from catalogues again almost as soon as they
> appear: while not everyone has room or time for this (and no one has
> room or time for everything), keeping as many varieties as possible in
> existence in the world does help protect us against future blights etc.
> A variety that produces mediocre fruit everywhere except, maybe, in one
> tiny spot with exactly the right conditions; or even one which has
> mediocre fruit everywhere; may be carrying some genes we don't yet know
> that we're going to need.
> --Rivka
> Finger Lakes NY; zone 5 mostly
> _______________________________________________
> nafex mailing list
> nafex at lists.ibiblio.org
> All other messages are discarded.
> No exceptions.
> ----
> To subscribe or unsubscribe, go to the bottom of this page (also can be used to change other email options):
> http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/nafex
> File attachments are NOT stripped by this list
> Please do not send binary files.
> Use plain text ONLY in emails!
> Message archives are here:
> http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/nafex
> NAFEX web site:   http://www.nafex.org/

Thomas Olenio
Ontario, Canada
Hardiness Zone 5b

More information about the nafex mailing list