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robertogreco : blackberries   6

Dr Sarah Taber on Twitter: "Red Delicious was A+ in its original incarnation. Then folks kept grafting from bud sports (=sometimes a tree throws a branch that's a little different, it's normal) w darker & darker fruit. Selected for color instead of qualit
"Red Delicious was A+ in its original incarnation. Then folks kept grafting from bud sports (=sometimes a tree throws a branch that's a little different, it's normal) w darker & darker fruit. Selected for color instead of quality. 100+ yrs later we now have purple foamballs.

[quoting: "If I had a time machine I would 100% make sure that the person who named the Red Delicious apple was brought to justice"
https://twitter.com/faithchoyce/status/1055944025121771520]

(2/) Weirdly this makes some evolutionary sense. When confronted w a variety of otherwise identical fruit (say, bins of apples at the store), humans go for the darkest red ones.

In nature, that's how you eat the ripe ones & leave bb fruit to mature.

(3/) So. All other things being equal, if you have multiple apple varieties at the store, the darkest red ones tend to sell the fastest. It's not hard to see how that wound up being the priority for deciding which Red Delicious variants to graft.

(4/) Tl;dr a lot of the stuff that the food movement blames on "bad agriculture" or w/e is ... really just the result of a lot of micro-scale human decisions that made sense on their own. Then they snowball into something weird.

(5/) Also when I worked in fruit breeding the weirdest thing would happen. Us in the breeding program would wind up with our favorite cultivars. We liked the ones with a lot of flavor: strong, balanced acidity & sweetness with a lot of aroma.

(6/) There was this one blueberry that had this amazing rich flavor. Thick, jammy with a little bit of blackberry to it. mmmmmm

(7/) But when we actually did the flavor testing? Let civilians eat our new berry crosses?

They LOOOVED the most watery, insipid, shitty berries. Kept giving them top marks, and our favorite big-flavor berries always wound up in the middle.

(8/) IIRC the top-testing blueberry from that program during my time there was Meadowlark. Bless its heart, it's a great bush- but the fruit is a bland-ass water bean. Its max flavor level is a faint whiff of violets.

(9/) Anyway, it seems like every other thinkpiece about ~food these days~ has obligatory remarks on how The Scientists Are Breeding Crops For Durability Instead of Flavor.

lmao fuck that, we keep TRYING to breed for flavor & getting sabotaged by y'all on the taste panels

(10/) Again, there's some really complex human systems stuff going on in our produce markets. Like asking why so many ppl seem to prefer bland fruit. We'd really be able to help ourselves out if we actually ... looked at that?

(11/) But it wraps the story up in a neat little bow to blame ~science~ so sure let's do that instead.

-cut to scientists hissing Gollum-style over the 3 good berry plants from their field trials that never made it to market because The People Have Spoken- 🤣

(12/) Hrmmm replies have turned into a "let's hate on the plebes who don't appreciate fruit like ~we~ do" sesh.

The entire point of this thread was, there's a HUGE spectrum of flavors out there most of us don't ever encounter & we don't know what we don't know.

(13/) Statistically speaking, MOST OF US in the ol' u s of a are secretly one of those majority of people who like shitty bland fruit, AND WE'LL NEVER KNOW IT."
fruit  science  agriculture  2018  sarahtaber  apples  blueberries  grafting  flavor  food  selection  humans  berries  blackberries 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Mount Sutro - FoundSF
"Mount Sutro, a hill in San Francisco, is difficult to characterize. At 908 feet, it’s a very tall hill that comes close to being a small mountain. (Another 92 feet, and it would have that distinction.) Many hundreds of years ago it might have started life as a hybridized sand dune/chert rock outcropping: it sits to the south of the Great Sand Bank of the outer lands of the city where offshore gusts threw sand from west to east with impunity one hundred years ago. It has a lot of trees growing on it, so many that it’s called a forest, although properly speaking it’s more like a tree plantation. Most of the trees are from one species, Eucalyptus globulus, the Tasmanian blue gum eucalyptus. When Mount Sutro is viewed from a distance, it looks almost cartoonishly rounded, a great tree-laden lump rising in the center of the city. The ravines and slopes of Mount Sutro are filled with blue gum eucalyptus, Himalayan blackberry and English ivy. They are all non-native.

Craig Dawson, the executive director of Sutro Stewards, a habitat restoration organization, likes eucalyptus trees and prefers the native blackberry over its invasive cousin. “Native blackberries are sweeter,” he says. “Himalayan blackberries are really tart.” He is openly dismayed by the English ivy, Hedera helix, the villainous plant of the understory which prevents native plants from growing well or at all and kills eucalyptus trees. “The birds eat the berries,” he says, “and the seeds gets distributed everywhere. You can’t fight all this,” he says, gesturing at the glossy leaves of the ivy."



"The North Ridge Trail is steep. I huffed and puffed after Craig, while he continued to name plants as he went. We stopped before a tall tree. “Toyon,” said Craig. We looked at it in silence. Here was a tree, solid and growing confidently in its old home. Maybe it had always been here— a historic remnant of a once larger community. Or maybe the seed it sprang from had been scarified in the acidic confines of a bird’s digestive tract and shat out to land— miraculously— in the one place it could sprout. We didn’t plant hardly any of this, Craig had said. Overhead the ravens croaked and chattered. Craig looked up in amusement. “When the ivy is in fruit, you can’t hear yourself talk. They’re very loud,” he said. Seed bearers to blackberry and toyon alike, they proved one thing: Invasion depends on movement. All things that creepeth and crappeth add more weight to Mount Sutro’s unbalanced ecological system, top-heavy with homogeneity. The current ecological system in the reserve depends on movement in the sky and on the trail below: hikers, bikers and birds all help propagate the eucalyptus, ivy and blackberry. We walked out of the murky confines of the reserve and into the summit. I saw the first direct sunlight I’d seen since meeting Craig in the Parking lot.

Rotary Meadow sits on about two inches of topsoil. The dirt was removed during the construction of a Nike radar base in the 1950’s. In an email sent to me later, Craig elaborated: “Rotary Meadow is planted in a debris field of unconsolidated rubble atop solid chert. On the top there is a bare minimum of a couple of inches of gravel, rock chips, and 50 years of composting resulting from the broom, blackberry and weeds that called it home.” The summit plant community, fragrant with mugwort and artemisia, is scraping by. It’s the only place in the reserve that supports a coastal scrub community. It does so on just under two acres of land.

Two bush lupines sat alongside a San Francisco gum plant. The lupines, small and fragile looking, are the only source of food on Mount Sutro for the tiny and endangered Mission Blue butterfly. “They’re no bigger than your fingernail,” said Craig, extending his for comparison. The lupine is also the butterfly’s nursery. The butterfly sips nectar from the lupine and lays its eggs on the underside of the leaves. The eggs hatch in six to ten days and continue feeding and living on the plant as caterpillars. The caterpillars are protected from insect predators (mostly wasps), by ants. Lupines, butterflies, ants: this elegant triad illustrates the basic schematic of ecology: a relationship between locale, plant and animal that is historically congruent and interdependent. It’s simple and very easy to disrupt. On Mount Sutro, the relationship is struggling. Two elements are missing: the butterfly and the ant.

Prenolepsis imparis, the ant, is missing. The ant/nursemaid to the Mission Blue caterpillar feeds on honeydew, a substance secreted by the caterpillar. The ants defend this food source from other predators like wasps. But a 2008 study performed jointly by biologists from San Francisco State University and the California Academy of Science described a startling finding: the absence of any native ants— any ants at all— in the interior greenbelt of Mount Sutro, downhill of the summit. The ant, it was surmised, was missing so completely because of the absence of habitat. Like elk clover, ants need the sun. And like mice, ants also need bare patches of land to travel. The study concludes that dense understory plants and too much moisture discouraged the ants from making it to the summit, effectively removing one crucial element from the three-part production that results in a population of healthy lupines and adult Mission Blue butterflies. The understory rolling and tumbling in the depths below affects the summit ecology dramatically: People literally can’t see the ants because of the trees.

A look of consternation flitted across Craig’s face. “Look at that,” he said. I looked. Purple star thistle had sprouted in a recently cleared patch to our right. “Workmen brought that up here,” he said. He said nothing more: he didn’t need to. Purple star thistle is a “major problem” according to the California Invasive Plant Council plant; the sort of plant that people who manage urban forests and regional parks cite as an example of why herbicides must be used."



"For the general public, living on the margins of (or downstream from) urban forests, the use of glysophate and triclopyr seems not to be accepted at all. Tired of high-handed interventions into the earth’s ecological systems, they’re perhaps protesting not only an intentionally toxic process, but also the seemingly endless interference, or management, of meddlesome humans. When will the earth be left to itself? Craig looked at the star thistle disgustedly. We walked on.

We entered the south ridge, project area number one. The south ridge has been thinned not once but twice; first in the 1930’s when the Works Progress Administration employed local men to log the eucalyptus grove, (there was a mill on Seventh Avenue and Clarendon) and again in 1954 to make room for a new Nike Missile radar base. “These trees are 58 years old,” said Craig and they look it: epicormic shoots sprout weirdly from the sides of the trees, evidence of logging, military installations and the most common method of thinning, fire. There have been seven fires in the reserve since the late 1800’s. The largest, in 1899, burned 60 acres, practically the entirety of the reserve. Another fire in 1935 burned ten acres and took 400 firemen to extinguish. Mount Sutro, with its wet western perimeter and persistent fog, is not exempt from California’s fire ecology. In California, everything can burn."



"In the battle to understand and manage the future, one fire regime tends to gets pitted against another. Chaparral is dangerous, say the critics of the UCSF forest management plan. Grasslands are dry. Coastal scrub doesn’t harvest fog or moisten the soil as efficiently as eucalyptus trees do. Eucalyptus trees explode, counter indignant Californians weary of hearing their native plant communities maligned. They increase the fuel loads to dangerous levels. They hog water. They perpetuate a mistaken vision of beauty for California: one that lionizes imported trees, while the glory of California’s coastal scrub and chaparral gets denigrated as dangerously “dry” brush with little or no regard for the astonishing amount of biodiversity it promotes. But the words of Andy Hubbs resolve this argument: “Everything burns,” he said. Eucalypts, native chaparral, southern coastal scrub communities, and the type of maritime coastal scrub/chaparral plant community that once grew on the hills in San Francisco- all of it.

In California, everything burns.

As Craig and I walked through the south ridge, the change in ambient moisture was abrupt. Minutes before the air had been fairly dry. Now dripping water fell everywhere. We were in the fabled “cloud forest” of Mount Sutro, standing in fog so thick that there was nothing to be seen but tree after tree, shrouded in whitish-grey mist. “You should be able to see the Marin Headlands from here,” said Craig. I felt like a ghost standing there. There’s an odd lack of “place” on Mount Sutro, a landmark isolated from its cousin landmarks, the Marin Headlands, the sea, and the southern reaches of the San Miguel Hills. There is no context to widen the understanding of what you’re standing on, no chance to compare the hill with other hills, bluffs and beaches. There is no way to appreciate the contiguity of the coastal ridge that runs from Point Reyes down the peninsula. One is forced to consider only the spindly trees and the shrouding fog. We walked back to the parking lot. Craig pointed to a eucalyptus tree. “See that? That’s what a healthy euc looks like,” he said. I looked at it and saw what I’d been looking at my whole life, in paintings or in windbreaks that edge the 101 freeway: a magnificent tree with a truck the color of pale ivory and a crown of dark green leaves radiating horizontally from the branches. It was the very picture of edenic California, lovely, healthy and serene.

We love what we know. Perhaps California’s native plant landscape is not … [more]
mountsutro  sanfrancisco  history  classideas  blackberries  plants  trees  eucalyptus  elizabethcreely  trails  forestknolls  midtownterrace  clarendonheights  innersunset  nature  ivy  ravens  ecology  craigdawson 
december 2017 by robertogreco
LRB · Andrew O’Hagan: Short Cuts
"fail to answer mobile phone, or turn it off completely...announces that you are deep in the throes of a secret life..don’t care...not reliable...got something to hide...screening...few modern crimes so remarked on as the crime of unavailability. Answer
psychology  society  etiquette  availability  reachability  technology  mobile  phones  social  blackberries  gadgets  facebook  privacy 
november 2007 by robertogreco
Weblogg-ed » The Battle is (or Will Be) Lost
"More restrictions, more blocking, more battening down the information hatches is only going to drive it all underground and make the world of our kids less safe. And...deny us a chance to help our kids develop and employ the literacies they are going to
blackberries  laptops  lost  teaching  education  learning  schools  policy  fear  privacy  safety  filters  technology  google  wikis  reform  change 
may 2007 by robertogreco
PULPHOPE: BLACKBERRY
"The Thing sending a text message, courtesy of removeable prosthetic thumb devices built for him by Mister Fantastic."
comics  mobile  phone  messaging  text  sms  email  blackberries 
january 2007 by robertogreco

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