I bit hard on a peanut sized pit in a forkful of salad. I’d mixed what I thought were small seedless grape tomatoes with my lettuce, peppers and olives. I carefully ate each one and spit out the pits as my city-boy confusion grew. What produce revolution had transformed my loveable seedless grape tomatoes?
Karen thought she’d bought a package of them at the Pybus Farmer’s Market. Nothing on the package labels the product from Tiny’s Organic, East Wenatchee, website, www.tinysorganic.com. What government regulation had transformed FDA packing requirements? I felt like I was in A Twilight Zone from Rod Serling’s famous TV series.
I took pictures of the package and emailed my questions to a trustworthy local farm source.
The product is healthy and delicious, according to Mia Brisbine from Tiny’s Organic who responded quickly to my questions. She is nowhere near a twilight zone. She said they were healthy and delicious “Organic cherry plums, a hybrid of a cherry and a plum.”
I knew they were healthy and delicious, but why was the package without labeling information about product ingredients? The language often used is creative art to disguise information. Their labels was company information only.
She explained the bags were filled by sellers at the market posted with signs clearly identifying them as cherry plums. Karen and I pay more attention to delicious looking fruit than signs, but we need to refocus.
Brisbine said, “Farmers Markets request that we don’t label produce with stickers, only provide signage with the product. If the produce that is packaged were to go to a grocery store, it would require labeling.”
The local farm and farmer’s markets were protecting Karen and me by making sure the product was sold directly to us as consumers and not to others who wanted to resell it.
Even better, she said. “All of the fruit we sell is 100% Organic and grown at our farm in East Wenatchee.”
We confirmed we can trust our local farmers and markets to deliver evolving variations of healthy produce, but we need to beware ogling the fruit without reading the signs.
While I was pondering the cherry plum revolution surrounding the pits in the remainder of the package, I wondered whether it would be safer if it was labeled a genetically modified organism (GMO). Every one of my cherished Honey-Crisp apples from the grocery store has a label that I peel off, although apple packers have assured me the labels are edible. I wonder if paper labels should be identified as coming from genetically modified trees?
From what I can tell, a hybrid plant is a cross pollination between two different species of plant where humans don’t have any control over the genes. Edible hybrids are sold and inedible ones are discarded. It’s called selective breeding. It sounds safer than baby breeding. Karen and I took what we got and periodically wondered about the wisdom of those decisions, but we were lucky.
Genetically engineering a plant gets a precise set of genes which sounds to me like greater control of the genetic structure compared to hit-and-miss cross breeding hybrids.
We’ve been growing and consuming GMO plants like corn since the mid-1990s while agriculturists have been discovering and selectively breeding plants since 12,000 BCE, according to Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium and a trusted scientist/narrator.
In an interview with Mother Jones magazine he said, “We have systematically genetically modified all the foods, the vegetables and animals, that we have eaten ever since we cultivated them.”
They taste better, they’re easier to harvest, last longer, look better.
What if scientists could modify cherry-plums to get rid of pits? We’ve selectively bred seedless watermelons, why not genetically engineer pitless-cherry-plums? Go, go, GMO.