This books is, in my opinion, LOOOOONG overdue. From sweet corn that no longer tastes "corny" to cottony white strawberries and golf-ball tomatoes, what has happened to our produce and what can we do to obtain the best, most nutritious fruits and vegetables. This is a practical book as well as a very interesting read. It's not only a natural history of our most commonly-eaten fruits and veg, it's also a guide to buying and using produce, sources for seeds, and much more.
There is a new lack of diversity in varietals. The author gives the example of apples. We used to live for the apple SEASONS...not season. First early Macs, then Courtlands, Jonathans, Winesaps, etc. Now, go to the store and it's Gala, Fuji, Braeburn and the inevitable Granny Smiths for the most part. And those Grannys to me don't taste right. They are bitter. Many fruits just don't taste the same to me anymore (grapes, strawberries in particular. Corn is weird--sugary sweet, no character. Personally, I miss the yellow corn of my childhood, grown right down the street and picked and rushed to the table.)
The history of the blueberry was particularly interesting; the darkest berries (full of antioxidants) were selected AGAINST when they were cultivated from wild ones, because the horticulturalist thought lighter berries would sell better.
The saddest thing is the loss of nutrients. These foods are vital to your health.
The author goes over how we got various fruits, such as the apricots of Asia, the apples loved by the Salish tribe of America but also gives us suggestion on where and what to buy. Some of the info is a bit conflicting; for example, there is a recipe for apple crisp, using the nutritious skins ground up in the sugar topping portion to get the benefit of their vitamin content--but the author also tells us that commercial apples are very high, among the highest, in pesticides. This is absolutely true in my experience. We like to go to the "U-Pick" at a local orchard, but I can't go into the apple tree rows as the pesticide is so concentrated on freshly sprayed trees that it irritates my skin and lungs. So...organic is the way to go, if you can do so.
I kind of sort of came to the same conclusions as this book a while ago because I love fresh produce and it was getting more and more unsatisfactory; I found our local farms for asparagus and tomatoes, found the organic co-ops and learned what vegetables and fruits were best around here in the Mid-Atlantic. I try to stick to those good choices. The author gives recipes, advice, history and this all makes for good reading. Recommended.