When our ancestors came to America they brought with them everything they could possibly fit into their luggage including seeds from their gardens. After all, you have to have food and not knowing where they would end up or what there was to eat, it was only right that they brought their best seeds for a nice vegetable garden.
Those seeds are referred to as Heirloom seeds which produce Heirloom plants and vegetables from those plants. As farmers began to grow their gardens they also began to share with friends, neighbors and families some of their best seeds from their best plants. What is really exciting, is that even after all these years people are still sharing seeds from the original plants.
With the commercialization of our food products over the years corporations and perhaps farmers themselves began to alter the plants hoping to make them more disease and pest resistant. Which they did, but it came at a price and that price was a loss of flavor and a different plant behavior. We lost many Heirloom’s to this practice.
Fortunately many small family farmers kept their beloved seeds and have over time given them to others who would be responsible for keeping their original integrity.
We are so lucky to have these people who were not swayed by the modern methods of gardening and kept their seeds in rotation so that we can now savor their deliciousness.
It might sound dramatic but the truth is when you bite into an Heirloom fruit or vegetable the differences can sometimes be remarkably different in textures and flavors.
One of my favorite Heirloom tomatoes is called Cherokee Purple. It is a deep dark red even a slight purple color with rich spicy undertones not found in the more modern versions of tomatoes. These tomatoes make the best spaghetti sauce around.
With the onset of world travel many Heirloom seeds from other countries have also become available to us through seed companies that are careful to screen their producers and their practices. See Seed Resources for a list of these companies.