As I mentioned in my last post, the new property, Marari Pearl, could easily be called the Beach Banana Genome Project because it has 30 varieties of bananas being grown on it. When Amie and I saw the list of everything being grown on the property, our joy was akin to kids on christmas.
Since I’ve been reading The Fruit Hunters by Adam Leith Gollner, I’ve realized the role variety awareness plays in conserving biodiversity. Simply not knowing about all the varieties allows agribusiness to monopolize the market with one or two varieties that best suit global trade. For example, when people only saw red and yellow apples in the supermarket, they did not know what they were missing out on, so they weren’t as picky. Once Fujis and Galas became known, customers began to demand more. Knowledge of varieties is seen as a threat to supermarket because customers focused on varieties become less easy to please with subpar, out-of-season fruits.
So with that being said, simple awareness of varieties is a method of raising the bar. It helps promote biodiversity because people are less willing to accept generic and standardized fruit.
On the Marari Pearl property, there are pomelos, rambutans, and tamarinds. There are several types of jackfruit, lovi-lovis, mangos, and oranges. I was particularly excited to see the miracle fruit on the list.
The miracle fruit rewires the way our brain receives sour tastes. So for a few hours after eating it, lemons would taste as sweet as candy. It was outlawed in the United States in the 1970s because it could serve as a sugar substitute so this was a threat to the sugar industries. This is a perfect example of how being aware of the wide varieties of fruit in the world promotes conserving biodiversity because it creates a market for conserving these varieties before they become forgotten. To read about the underground following of miracle fruit, here is an article from the New York Times.
It’s exciting to see Marari Pearl participating in this element of conservation by promoting awareness and just having a collection of more rare genomes and seed varieties.