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The renaming of Heirloom produce

Posted by Bill_SouthernCal 10 So.Cal (My Page) on
Tue, Aug 2, 05 at 11:47

I wish people/companies wouldn't do that. But with the renewed interest in heirloom tomatoes, you just know it was bound to happen. It used to be Rostova, but is now "Sunset Red Horizon". What are some others?

In the fruit aisle - instead of gooseberries, they were renamed "Kiwi" fruit and sales took off. It works from a marketing standpoint, but what was wrong with the original name?

They're doing this with melons as well. Butterscotch melons are now being sold as "Cotton Candy" by Freida's produce. I wonder if it's some kind of ploy. Home gardeners won't know what variety it is if they don't save the seeds and want to plant it later.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: The renaming of Heirloom produce

Bill,

For what it's worth I think the majority of the renaming occurs in California. LOL

How I wish I could remember the couple of tomatoes that Melissa's renamed, but I just can't right now.

But it also happens outside of commercial places such as vendors at Farmer's Markets.

More than once I've been stumped in not recognizing a name that someone asks background info about and I've asked them to go back to the person they bought from and sometimes a different name comes up.

Actually I don't think it's funny at all, I think it's sad, and I think of those who save seeds from misnamed fruits and veggies and then distribute those misnamed seeds to others. Sigh.

And making up false histories/backgrounds is another one of my pet peeves.

There are those who are in this heirloom growing for fun/interest/enjoyment and those whose primary interest is money. And yes, there are a few who can combine both, but not many that I know of.

Carolyn


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RE: The renaming of Heirloom produce

In the case of gooseberries it was consumers that required the name change. I guess few knew for sure what goose poop looked like. But it could look like...that. :) You're trying to enter the mind of the average fool. Kiwi sounds...exotic.

Butterscotch melons are now being sold as "Cotton Candy" by Freida's produce.
===

This one stumps me. I like to know what I'm really eating but I'm in the minority. For most people a peach is a peach is a peach. After hearing from you that Butterscotch melons are tasty, I'd buy one to try. Cotton Candy isn't a melon on my list to try.

I'm guessing they're hoping for name recognition to be associated with their company. Anyone can get seeds and grow a Butterscotch melon. If they can get consumers asking a store for that melon they liked...Cotton Candy, then the order comes to them and not Generic Butterscotch Melon Grower #1.

Where does truth in product labeling come into play?


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RE: The renaming of Heirloom produce

Unfortunately, this is not a new thing. Seed houses have been doing it for more than a century.

With the mainstream interest in heirlooms, it's accelerating. As Carolyn points out, not only in stores, but at farmers markets and at farmstands too.

I was recently at a farmstand where they've started selling heirlooms. What was kind of amusing was the labels. Side by side were 5 or 6 boxes of what we know are heirlooms. Each of them was named, except for one in the middle which was simply labeled "heirloom yellow tomatoes."

Yeah, that'll work!

Bill, I believe the situation with kiwi fruit is a little different. Although in the same family, Americans (at least in the East) recognize gooseberries as a small, green, berry that doesn't look anything like kiwi. So this is a case where marketing actually reduced confusion.

You think it's bad with veggies? Try keeping track of the way they keep renaming fishes to make them more appealing to consumers.


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RE: The renaming of Heirloom produce

Garden Lad - What type of fish was it that was re-named? I know that I know they even re-named several cuts of beef, some permanently and some seasonally (Valentine Steak locally was top round cut in the shape of a heart). There are cases where name changes were probably good. In the cooking oil aisle, wasn't Canola Oil actually named "Rapeseed" at one time? At times, we fail at it. remember the attempt to change French fries to Freedom fries? I think when people are hungry in a fast food line, they revert to the long standing name, and don't care about being politically correct.

As far as farm stand tomatoes, "yellow heirlooms" doesn't cut it for me. There are some good ones like "Aunt Gerties Gold" and "Yellow Brandywine" but many more are forgetful.
One guy at the Farmer's Market here said his bi-colored tomato (a la Marizol Gold or Big rainbow) was named "Russian". I wasn't a smart aleck about it, but when I started naming the other varieties he had
Green Zebra, Cherokee Purple, and Black Krim (there were no signs posted) he said "You sure know your tomatoes. He listened and agreed to try to get the variety name.

Carolyn - Yes, in California we are trendoids. People here will try anything if it looks unique and someone says they like it. Some of the buyers tell me they can't wait to get home to put it on their dinner table so when guests arrive, they'll have something to talk about that no one else has!
Dragonfruit, although bland, is beautiful and definitely an eye opener.

As far as tomatoes and fake tales, well I got one from Mr. Smith at Hollywood Farmer's market last October when I bought his family heirloom, "Goosecreek" tomato. I HAD to buy it when I was told that the then slaves passed it on for generations down to the current family members. Yeah, right. Planted next to the Early Girl, they weren't that much different in taste, though both were picked in early December, long past the prime tomato growing season. The difference was EG at Home Depot was $ 0.99 and Goosecreek was $4.00.

reign - I think you hit it right on the head. We are now seing expensive "Tuscan" melon and the "Perfect Melon". In their website, the Perfect Melon is supposedly "Red Moon" variety. Do a Google search, and it can't be found. It's probably a hybrid re-named. Tuscan is supposedly some Italian hybrid, and they don't want to reveal the name of the seed variety either. That way, we can associate this melon ONLY with this brand. In a blind taste test, most of my friends said the melons grown here in California were equal to the Tuscan. Regular melons are my local supermarket are about $1 each eight now, and Tuscan sells for $4-$5. Not worth the price difference at all.

Yes, "Cotton candy" is not very enticing to me as a name. It's just sugar with dye. When the weather is warm and the plant is happy, the taste is sweet and does have a faint hint of butterscotch. I have harvested almost the last of the Butterscotch melons. The first ones picked were good but the texture was grainy. With the last two weeks of 85 plus degree temps, they've gone silky and aromatic. One lady closed her eyes and said, "Yum, this tastes like summer...you made my day". So hopefully, your melen patch will be yummy as well.


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RE: The renaming of Heirloom produce

As far as tomatoes and fake tales, well I got one from Mr. Smith at Hollywood Farmer's market last October when I bought his family heirloom, "Goosecreek" tomato. I HAD to buy it when I was told that the then slaves passed it on for generations down to the current family members. Yeah, right

That's Mr Williams Bill, as in Jimmy Williams. ( smile)

Last year here at GW I posted the generic labels that one could buy from one of the major label/tag companies in the US. It was a riot, or so I thought, and maybe I should do it again since I jsut got their new catalog. Yes, they do sell labels for pack sales of named hybrids and OP's as well, but it's the generic ones that make me laugh so hard.

Carolyn


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RE: The renaming of Heirloom produce

>What type of fish was it that was re-named?<

There have been numerous ones, Bill. What happens is that as a cash-crop fish declines through overfishing, they replace it with something that, in the past, wasn't worth bothering with. Most of the time the "trash" fish had a bad name, from a marketing point of view. For instance, you can now buy dogfish, devilfish, and a host of others, all under newer, more acceptible names.

You can almost chart when this happens because all of a sudden a "new" fish floods the markets and becomes all the rage. Whatinhell, for instance, is a monkfish? And a tilefish?

Other times they take otherwise unacceptible fish, reconfigure them, give 'em a new name, and voila! Skates and rays, as such, are not appealing to Americans. But if we skin them, stamp out a section, and call it something else (like, maybe, "sea scallops") we can really market them.

Sometimes the name isn't acceptible because of certain connotations. Mahi Mahi, for instance, is dolphin. But we tend to think of Flipper as a dolphin, and to avoid any problems they changed the name. And, before anyone jumps salty, dolphins are a fish---a great gamefish at that. Flipper is a porpoise, and porpoises are mammals.

I wonder, too, how many more ways they're going to recycle pollack before they overfish them?


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RE: The renaming of Heirloom produce

I wonder, too, how many more ways they're going to recycle pollack before they overfish them?

Here in NYS the Ag Dept is very active on the fish front, as it were, and they send agents out to collect samples from both wholesale and retail places and run DNA restriction enzyme testing on the samples.

If something is labelled Haddock and is really haka haka, whatever that is, I made it up, LOL, then there are large fines levied.

It has helped keep lots of folks more honest.

Carolyn


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RE: The renaming of Heirloom produce

It's all about marketing. They teach it in college. Some folks become experts at it. Some folks are miserable at it. They all think they are geniuses. Most of them retain their former low level of intellect and have simply acquired a fancy vocabulary of catch words.

Obviously, many of you have your heads screwed on a little better, and can see through the smoke and past the mirrors.

The only benefit in all of it is that when the truly valuable old varieties are successfully promoted into trendiness, they are also afforded a certain degree of preservation ... at least for the moment. It's kinda like historic preservation of landmark buildings, though; some of them are worth the effort, and some aren't. Unfortunately, with the wordsmiths at work, it's sometimes hard to determine at first blush which is which.

Bill


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RE: The renaming of Heirloom produce

>If something is labelled Haddock and is really haka haka, whatever that is, I made it up, LOL, then there are large fines levied. <

Yeah, Carolyn, but what happens when the haka haka people lobby strongly enough to have it used as an alternative name for haddock? Pretty soon they're selling haka haka to people who don't know the difference.

Or they can come up with a way of processing, and name the _process_ haka haka; and, again, the general public thinks that haka haka is a new fish.

And sometimes they rename things to circumvent the law. Due to some strange interpretations by the federal court, Native Americans were (perhaps still are) allowed to commercially fish lake trout in Lake Michigan. Miles and miles of gill nets were set.

As a result, they literally decimated the lake trout population in Grand Travis Bay, and seriously affected the fishery in other parts of the lake.

What do do with all those fish? They were marketed (at the Fulton Fish Market, in fact) as "white steelhead," because it was not otherwise legal to sell lake trout. There is no such animal as a white steelhead.

The irony is, there is no commercial fishery for steelhead, either, and most people don't know what they are. So it was a double-barreled misnomer.

>promoted into trendiness, they are also afforded a certain degree of preservation....<

Perhaps, Bill. But what about their names and histories. If they aren't preserved as well, half the battle has been lost.

We all know about the Julia Child tomato, for instance. Gary Ibsen took an otherwise "unnamed" tomato and assigned that name to it, just because he wanted to. But just because the person who sent it to him didn't know the name doesn't mean there wasn't one. Or at least a real history behind it, if it were a family heirloom.

And, as I said before, someday, it a fit of the quaints, I'm going to collect every one of the made-up legends about Cherokee Purple and publish them somewhere. The truth about CP can be told in a paragraph. But I betcha I can fill a book with all the other "histories" of it.


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RE: The renaming of Heirloom produce

Gardenlad, Carolyn, etc. thanks for the information on renamed fish. I guess deceptive labelling does go way beyond renamed tomatoes.

I have another complaint regarding the renaming of heirloom produce. It's kind of the reverse - the Un-NAMING of heretofore named heirloom varieties, especially with tree fruit. I love a sweet, juicy, pineapply and skin tangy Santa Rosa plum. The skin color is reddish purple. Most stores now don't list the variety, and call it Red Plums. The late season Casselman plums, a much redder skin color with grainier and less complex taste, is also a Red Plum. Elephant Heart, a very deep blood red color both in skin and flesh, is also a Red Plum. And they're not even remotely similar IMO.

Thank God for Whole Foods and other markets that list the variety, and WF even says if it's "conventionally grown" or organic. Sometimes, with produce such as head lettuce, the variety doesn't matter too much. But with plums, apples, pears, etc. - it does.

I know so many people who don't like "mangoes" which I think is the most consumed fruit in the world. If in February, you buy an under-ripe when picked Tommy Atkins mango, grown in Brazil, you won't be impressed. It's very fibrous, dry, and only slightly sweet and non-aromatic. Of course, when left on the tree to ripen, any mango is delicious. Buy a riper Ataulfo or Kent, and the texture is more silky, the aroma and taste more complex, and overall are great mangoes (unless picked too early). And if you want a more heady aroma and complex taste, you will love Hayden, though the texture is very fibrous.

So, name of the variety does matter. I hope stores around here start listing the variety again as much as possible.


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RE: The renaming of Heirloom produce

>Sometimes, with produce such as head lettuce, the variety doesn't matter too much.<

Say what! Maybe if you use "iceburg" and "head lettuce" as synonyms. But the flavors and textures of head lettuces do vary greatly---as do those of leaf lettuce. That's why there are so many varieties to choose from.

>"mangoes" which I think is the most consumed fruit in the world......<

I thought tomatoes were the most consumed fruit in the world.

But, as to your basic thesis, it's true. But that has to do with the changed nature of the food distribution system.

In the old days, when greengrocers were still common, and most of what they sold came from local truck farmers, the variety names were used. But as supermarkets displaced them, generic names became the norm. There are exceptions, to be sure, but by and large we buy "peppers" and "tomatoes" and "leaf lettuce" and "green beans" and "cantaloupe" etc. The produce managers usually don't know any different themselves---they're ordering off a master list that also doesn't specify variety names.

The question, too, is how much the typical consumer cares? You can't go by the people on these forums; by and large we are on the extreme edge of the bell curve, and are _not_ representative of the population as a whole.

Example: I don't eat "fresh" tomatoes at all for about six months of the year because I have no use for the wet carboard sold in the stores. Most people I know, on the other hand, think I'm a bit off for bothering to grow my own or paying a premium for locally grown heirlooms.

For the sake of convenience they are willing to go with unripened, cold-storage, tasteless veggies. That being the case, what difference does it make if the variety name is specified or not. They all wind up being the same, regardless.


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RE: The renaming of Heirloom produce

Fortunately, sometimes the old names have some appeal, too. I gave a presentation on fall and winter gardening last night, taking some melons just as examples of diversity not commonly found in grocery stores. Some of the French names were a little intimidating to the audience.

But I mentioned some melons that are good for harvesting in cooler fall weather. Piel de Sapo got written down by several people who thought that a "Toadskin" melon would appeal to kids.

Then again, they thought that Touchdown hybrid muskmelon would appeal to both kids and adult men. I like the old names better, usually. You can usually tell which towns and streets were named by marketers rather than regular folks, too. I don't think Pumpkin Center or nearby Weedpatch were named by people with an eye toward real estate development.


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RE: The renaming of Heirloom produce

GardenLad: I mean there are no differences in iceberg lettuces, the kind most supermarkets label as head lettuce. I know and love the many different types of lettuces that head up. But the stuff that fast food places use in tacos and burgers all seem the same to me.

OK, I agree there are more tomatoes consumed than mangoes, and I know technically tomatoes are a fruit, and I love them. I meant fruit as what most people would eat as a dessert.


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RE: The renaming of Heirloom produce

>I mean there are no differences in iceberg lettuces, the kind most supermarkets label as head lettuce.<

Now there's something we can agree on 100%. Iceburg lettuce can add crunch to a salad. But as for taste----if there is any, it's a bit too subtle for my tongue.

>But the stuff that fast food places use in tacos and burgers all seem the same to me. <

I'll have to take your word for that. I never eat in those places.


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RE: The renaming of Heirloom produce

I dont normally post on here--but just had to---gooseberries and kiwi are in no way the same! unless in your different states you have a different kind of goosberry, which is possible. but here, gooseberries are about the size of small marbles, grow on a bush, are smooth, and when ripe, turn purple. while kiwi are on a vine, much larger, and green.check out a few nurseries, starks, perhaps, and read the difference. i was astonished--and hope its just cultural differences, in us.


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RE: The renaming of Heirloom produce

Where I grew up, gooseberries are a small (larger than blueberries but not as big as a marble) berry, pale green with some white markings. They grow on bushes.

I've never seen a purple one. Could just be different varieties, or maybe we never picked them ripe?

Taste is kind of astringent, but they make great jams and pies.

Taxonomically, kiwi and gooseberries are related; and kiwi have been marketed as "Australian Gooseberry" and as just "Gooseberry" in some locales; particularly on the West Coast.

The fact that they are not the same thing is precisely the point of this thread.


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RE: The renaming of Heirloom produce

choose local food!

It really is a shame that our culture is so "individualistic" but want items they purchace to be identical.

I had started learning about gardening and heirlooms when a teacher/ advisor brought a tray of basil olive oil marinated black and red tomatoes to a meeting. WOW! I didnt know they were really different until I tried them.

I think its worth those who know the differences to try to share with others. How many people even talk about non-brand food anymore?!


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