I recently got my hands on a bag of ground cherries. It’s so rare that I try a fruit or vegetable that I’ve never eaten before, but I’m not alone in getting a taste of neglected varieties of produce. Encouraged by the slow food movement and by the successes of organics, farmers are beginning to bring back original American tastes.
In Bucks County, Pennsylvania, farmers are bringing back the pawpaw. According to an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, the creamy-fleshed fruit is America’s largest native fruit, and tastes something like a cross between bananas, mangoes, pineapples, and vanilla. Explorers Lewis and Clark credited the fruit with saving them from starvation.
Seasonally offered through Slow Food marketing arm Heritage Foods USA (along with heritage pork, turkey, and other meats), you can get a dozen pawpaws for $107. Heritage defends its perogative to ship a dozen fruits across the country:
‘Eat local is fine if you live in Napa or Vermont,’ argues Patrick Martins, Heritage’s president and the founder of Slow Food USA: ‘But what about the [purebred pork] farmer in Kansas with no local population? What about getting a taste of wild salmon?’
Until the breeds–the light, sweet Duroc pork, for instance–are reestablished, he maintains, eating locally shouldn’t rule out the imperative to ‘ship nationally.’