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

Chip Brantley, Author . Bloomsbury $25 (227p) ISBN 978-1-59691-381-3

After a conversion experience at the Los Angeles farmers’ market where he first tasted the sweet, succulent plum-apricot hybrid known as a pluot, freelance food writer Brantley embarked on this tasty exploration of the stone-fruit industry. In his telling, it is that rare acre of American agriculture that still has room for independents, like legendary fruit breeder Fred Zaiger, whose epic labors—he waits years to learn whether a new hybrid will be edible or growable—sparked an industry shift toward fruit that actually tastes good. Brantley delves into the complicated, sometimes cut-throat world of the San Joaquin Valley’s family fruit growers and marketers, squeezed by rising costs and ever more powerful and demanding retailers, always angling for the “Summer Passionate” consumer segment of lifestyle epicureans. In his chronicle of the 2007 growing season, their livelihoods hang on the unpredictable whims of nature and marketplace; perfect weather yields a delicious crop, yet the fickle Summer Passionates refuse to buy. The light-handed tome is more of a snack than a banquet, but Brantley’s engaging mixture of agronomy, reportage and food porn—“When I bit into it, it felt almost liquid, like plum jelly”—goes down easy. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 06/01/2009
Release date: 07/01/2009
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 240 pages - 978-1-60819-199-4
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