The Perfect Fruit: Good Breeding, Bad Seeds, and the Hunt for the Elusive Pluot

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Bloomsbury Publishing USA, Jul 1, 2009 - Cooking - 240 pages
There's no such thing as non-genetically-altered fruit. Even that organic peach or heirloom tomato is the result of hundreds and even thousands of years of crossbreeding. Since the dawn of agriculture, people have been obsessively tinkering to develop fruits that are hardier, healthier, and better-tasting. After a couple millennia of this, a handful of farmers in California's San Joaquin Valley believe they just may have developed the perfect fruit: a sweet, juicy, luscious plum-apricot hybrid known as a pluot.
In Pluot, William Brantley goes in search of what it takes to trick nature into producing culinary greatness-and to bring it to a market near you. The story begins with Floyd Zaiger, a humble and wily farmer who is arguably the greatest fruit breeder in the world. From there, it stretches both back and forward: back through a long line of visionaries, fruit smugglers, and mad geniuses, many of whom have been driven to dazzling extremes in the pursuit of exotic flavors; and forward through the ranks of farmers, scientists, and salesmen who make it their life's work to coax deliciousness out of stubborn and unpredictable plants. The result is part biography, part cultural history, and part horticultural inquest-a meditation on the surprising power of perfect food to change the way we live.

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Stunning prose. Makes me want to get in my car in drive to California just to buy a pound of "Flavor Kings."

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This is a really sweet book. Yes, it's about fruit and the fruit industry, written in an understandable and sometimes gorgeous style. It's really a book about love and life and what drives our curiosity. I love this book.

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About the author (2009)

William Brantley is a contributor to Slate, the Boston Globe, the Oxford American, and Gastronomica, among others. The former food writer for the San Francisco Examiner, he is also the co-founder of Cookthink, a cooking and recipe website. Brantley was the head cheesemaker at Westfield Farm, an award winning cheese company. A native of Alabama, he lives with his wife in western Massachusetts.

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