Not every book offers a chance to change your life in ways so tasty that words are useless. Out of Adam Leith Gollner’s experiences searching local markets everywhere for the heirloom, the exotic, the forgotten, the experimental, the delicate, the noncommercial fruits to lift body and soul in one bite has come his The Fruit Hunters: A Story Of Nature, Adventure, Commerce And Obsession. This book will bring smiles and aspirations to those who love fruit when it is the very best and to those who enjoy shopping for the very best to eat. It will stir plans for the future in all who are so fortunate as to own a bit of soil with direct sunlight.
He traveled everywhere locating these new taste experiences but he also found them close to home in farmer’s markets, roadside stands, and produce markets. He learned that a friendly chat at the market can result in a contact who will be happy to share the next season’s harvest at just the right moment. You may not meet fruit producers quite as colorful as he found, but with any luck you might. So it is obvious, wondrous new fruit is for both eating and talking about.
He gives lots of sources for those who want to plant something special and make the adventure a long term affair. One tree, one bush, one small garden patch is all it takes. There is no way anyone will regret becoming a fruit grower. I recall my childhood with a huge mulberry tree in the side yard and a pawpaw tree in the back yard and a wild blackberry thicket down the road. I never knew I had it so good.
There is, however, a dark side to the book. Gollner tells you in detail what urbanization, commercialization, and globalization has done to your food and health and to our environment. It is not a pretty picture nor does it taste all that good either. He doesn’t whine about the past or suggest a return to never-never land. No street demonstration will ever produce fruit, but he suggests that individuals can search out and support the farmers, orchard owners, green grocers, and neighbors who do care about what you put in your mouth. In this battle for the best, no one need eat alone. Charles Marlin