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BOOK REVIEW: Heirloom Vegetables by Simon Rickard

| 5 December 2014 | 1 Reply

BOOK REVIEW: Heirloom Vegetables by Simon Rickard
August 2014
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar

Heirloom Vegetables by Simon Rickard book cover

Simon Rickard uses his vast experience as a gardener and curator of seed stocks with The Diggers Club to fashion a quite incredible book which will make you look at the fruit and vegie section of your local supermarket with a sad wistfulness and a sigh of ‘what if…?’

Heirloom vegetables are those vegetables which – loosely speaking, says Rickard, ‘are varieties which pre-date WWII.’ Often seeds are passed down from generation to generation. They may have imperfections. But most importantly, they are not the mass-produced, all-produce-must-look-the-same, often bland and watered down varieties that you’ll find in most supermarkets and groceries.

Heirloom vegetables, Rickard explains, ‘mean something to the people who grow and eat them.’

Rickard provides a fascinating insight into the history of the resurgence of heirloom vegetable growing, a look at some of the characters that have led the movement and in many cases single-handedly saved entire swathes of varieties of plants from extinction, and provides an exhaustive rundown of different plant families, and varieties in each family.

Although Rickard has focussed the book primarily for Australian readers he gives a lot of space to foreign cultivars and the end result is a treasure for anyone not only with an interest in growing their own vegetable patch, but for any true food lover who wishes their local store would start stocking some of these amazing sounding produce, from the ‘Drunken woman frizzy headed lettuce’ to the ‘Cherokee trail of tears bean’.

Category: Book Reviews

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