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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

An Eliot Coleman Piece

Some Boulder Belt Fairy tale Eggplant in it's full glory back in late August


by Eliot Coleman

"First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. Then they fight you. Then
you win."
--Mahatma K. Gandhi

Thor Heyerdahl's classic adventure story, The Ra Expeditions, has a lesson
for agriculture. Heyerdahl wanted to prove that ancient Egyptian sailors
could have reached the new world in traditional boats made of bundled
papyrus stalks. He and his crew studied fresco paintings, three to four
thousand years old, on the tomb walls of pyramids for instruction on how to
construct the crafts. In the paintings there was one rope represented, from
the in-curled tip of the stern down to the afterdeck, for which they could
discern no purpose according to modern physics, and in the ensuing
construction it was left out. Ra I collapsed in mid-ocean for lack of that
rope. Their second attempt, Ra II, with the newly appreciated rope in its
assigned place, completed the voyage without a hitch. As Heyerdahl puts it,
"Ra II . . . was perfectly designed and crossed the Atlantic without loss
or damage to a single papyrus stem."

In the story of agriculture's transition from the natural knowledge of the
past to the chemical realities of the present, there was a part left out
which is the rope's equivalent -- an unappreciated part without which the
boat will fall apart. That crucial part is called "soil organic matter." In
the mid-1930s, organic farming arose from a recognition of the vital
importance of this soil ingredient. Some farmers saw the undesirable
changes in their soil and the diminished health of their livestock that
followed the shift to chemical farming in the 20th century. Their
appreciation for soil organic matter was reborn. They realized that they
needed to return to pre-chemical practices, and improve them if possible,
rather than reject them in favor of chemical shortcuts. They believed this
was the direction in which they needed to go if the health of the soil, the
health of the produce, and the health of the human beings consuming the
produce were to be maintained. Some of their improvements included more
successful methods of compost making, better management of crop residues --
the leaves, roots, or stems that are left after harvest -- and adding
mineral nutrients, where necessary, in their most natural form.

The organic pioneers wrote and spoke about their realization that the farm
is not a factory, but rather a human-managed microcosm of the natural
world. Whether in forest or prairie, soil fertility in the natural world is
maintained and renewed by the recycling of all plant and animal residues
which create the organic matter in the soil. This recycling is a biological
process, which means that the most important contributors to soil fertility
are alive, and they are neither farmers nor fertilizer salesmen. They are
the population of living creatures in the soil -- whose life processes make
the plant-food potential of the soil accessible to plants -- and their food
is organic matter.

The number of these creatures is almost beyond belief. It is often said
that a teaspoon of fertile soil contains at least one million live
microscopic organisms. Hard to believe as one million may be, the number is
now considered far too conservative. Once you begin to understand that the
soil is a living thing rather than an inert substance, a fascinating
universe opens in front of your eyes. I once watched a specialist on soil
creatures perform a minor miracle. He held the rapt attention of a roomful
of teenagers by showing slides and telling tales of the endlessly
interrelated and meticulously choreographed activities of these creatures.
The students were entranced because the subject matter was like a trip to
another planet. They were peeking into the secret world of nature.

The idea of a living soil nourished with organic matter also helps cast
light on the difference between a natural and a chemical approach to soil
fertility. In the chemical approach, fertilizers are created in a factory
to put a limited number of nutrients in a soluble form within reach of
plant roots. The chemical idea is to bypass the soil and start feeding the
plants directly with preprocessed plant food. In the natural approach, the
farmer adds organic matter to nurture all those hard-working soil
organisms. The natural approach is usually called feeding the soil rather
than feeding the plants but what it's really doing is feeding the soil
creatures and that is why it works so well. The idea that we could ever
substitute a few soluble elements for a whole living system is a lot like
thinking an intravenous needle could deliver a delicious meal.

It is important to stress that what has been accomplished to get organic
farming from the early pioneers to where it is today is the story of a
groundswell of natural truths flourishing in the face of a passel of
corporate/industrial lies. I remember the situation very well as it was
when I started back in 1965. The forces were definitely arrayed against us.
The defenders of the chemical side, claiming that organic farming was
foolish and impossible, were the USDA with its scientists and its enormous
budget, all of the land grant universities and smaller schools of
agriculture, the extension service, every feed and seed store in the
country, and of course the enormous money and power of the massive
agrochemical industry. On our side, claiming not only that organic farming
worked but that it worked much better than chemical farming, were a few
old-time large-scale farmers who had never bought into chemicals in the
first place and a bunch of idealistic young newcomers who wanted to farm
and who found the concepts of organic farming totally in line with their
thinking about humanity, sustainability, and the welfare of the planet.
When a study came out in 1977 from Barry Commoner's group at Washington
University in Saint Louis showing that in a side by side, paired up
comparison a group of Midwestern organic farmers were just as successful as
their chemical using neighbors, it was the first eye opener of the world to
come. The other side had no idea we were that good. There were some
newspaper and magazine articles but far less press than this should have
received if the public had been aware of the massively unequal array of
forces on the opposing sides. In my mind what had just happened was the
equivalent of your local junior high football team splitting a home and
away series with the Oakland Raiders. The type of press those football
games would get in the sports pages, is what this incident deserved.

The first of a number of studies positive to organic farming had begun
appearing in the early 1970's. I had a friend at the USDA and I used to
call him up as each one of these appeared. He was consistently dismissive.
The first one I told him about was a very positive study by a French
farmer's organization. "Ha!", he scoffed, "The USDA isn't going to pay any
attention to a bunch of French farmers." A couple of years later a
significant study was done by the Dutch department of agriculture. " Ha!"
he scoffed, "The USDA isn't going to listen to the Dutch department of
agriculture." Then the Washington University study came out. "Ha! The USDA
isn't going to listen to Washington University." I had lost touch with him
by 1980 when the USDA's own very positive study, Report and Recommendations
on Organic Agriculture, came out but I would not have been surprised if he
had said, "Ha! You don't expect the USDA to pay attention to the USDA do

And that was, truly, the sad state of affairs. As a fearless early organic
farmer I used to accept all invitations to speak. To be prepared, I did my
homework and I spent countless evenings in the stacks of the local
university library. I found an enormous number of applicable academic
studies, which reinforced the basic tenets of organic farming, published in
the major agricultural journals. Occasionally, my speaking invitations were
from universities themselves. I can remember a number of those instances.
During my talk I would have made a point about soil fertility or plant/pest
relationships and there would be an interruption from the audience. "Oh,
yes, you're Dean Smith, aren't you?", I would acknowledge the questioner.
"Go ahead, what is your question?" "Well, that is the most ridiculous
statement I ever heard," he would huff. "Where did that foolishness come
from?" "Hmm," I would say innocently, "lets see -- that's from a study by
Jones published in the Journal of Economic Entomology, January, 1967, pages
172 to 181. Haven't you . . . read it?"

In other words, the myth that organic farming could not work was so
ingrained, so much like a religious belief, that it was accepted out of
hand by agricultural university faculty members who were not reading, or if
reading, then not paying attention to the published literature in their own
fields. And, of course, none of them had ever investigated it in person. If
the reason for the general disbelief among agrochemical minds was that
these ideas were brand new, then some of their disbelief might be
understandable. But they are anything but new. Many of the books I read
when I started out in 1965, books that extolled the benefits of a
biological rather than chemical understanding of farming, were already 10
years old like P. H. Hainsworth's Agriculture: A New Approach (1954) or
almost 20 years old like Leonard Wickenden's Make Friends With Your Land
(1949) or more than 30 years old like Selman Waksman's The Soil and The
Microbe (1931). Other excellent volumes had been published as much as 70
years earlier. But these ideas were hardly new then. Read K. D. White's
tome Roman Farming and you will find that the benefits of compost, green
manures, mixed farming, crop rotations in general and legume rotations in
particular were basic knowledge 2000 years ago. Read F. H. King's Farmers
of Forty Centuries and you realize they were common knowledge 4000 years
ago. Of course they were. How do you think agriculture managed for all
those years?

In fact you don't even have to go beyond material published by the USDA
itself to be convinced that organic ideas represent sound agricultural
thinking. The 1938 Yearbook of the US Department of Agriculture, Soils and
Men, reads like a basic organic farming textbook with sentences like,
"While the continuous use of chemical fertilizers tends to deplete the
essential elements not supplied to the soil, the use of stable manure, leaf
mold, wood ashes and peat tends to conserve them... In some cases soil
deficiencies are not revealed by any effect on plant growth, yet the plant
is not being supplied with a sufficient quantity of some elements to
produce a normal healthy growth of animals feeding on it." And the 1957
Yearbook, Soil, is even more emphatic, "All these experiments point to
profound effects of fertilization on the nutritional quality of a plant. .
. we will have to determine the balance of plant nutrients in the soil
that will produce a plant of optimum nutritional quality."

So how was it in the mid 1960's that organic farming, which concerned
itself with exactly the issues raised in those quoted statements, was
ridiculed, and chemical farming was called conventional' agriculture? It
wasn't done by the farmers. It was imposed upon them by scientists and
merchandisers. Let me tell a metaphorical story from my background. Before
I got into farming I was an adventurer. One of my passions was rock
climbing. My thinking is still patterned by that rock climbing background.
It makes me a problem solver. It makes me adore challenges. Rock climbers,
like farmers, are interested in solutions, each one simpler and more
elegant than the last. Whereas the rock cliff scientist, if I may invent
such a character, might spend time speculating on the coefficient of
friction and surface fracturing between the granitic base and the basalt
outcropping or invoking the law of gravity, and the rock cliff merchandiser
might be speculating on what products could be sold to palliate the
impossible, the rock climbers are down at the bottom of the "impossible"
cliff quietly studying and planning how to climb it. To the climbers it is
a challenge. To the climbers a problem is something to be solved not
something to be studied to death or marketed.

This distinction occurs in part because of the positions from which the
different parties see the situation. The scientists and merchandisers are
standing out far away from the cliff, looking over at it, indulging in
their love of reductionism and speculating on the difficulties. The
climbers (like farmers) are standing right next to the problem, celebrating
their love of solutions and speculating on the possibilities. Where you are
looking from and what your goals are determine what you see and what you
do. My goals as a farmer are to solve problems, to overcome difficulties,
and do it with my own resources. The goals of the scientists and
merchandisers are to study problems, to emphasize the difficulties, and to
recommend purchased palliatives.

The implications of this situation are clear. If the cliff can be climbed
-- and I assure you that it can be -- then there are only two options open
to the merchandisers and the scientists. First, they can admit that their
science and their merchandise are unnecessary because solving the problem
has required only imagination and determination. Or, second, they can use
all their resources to manipulate the situation through spin and
obfuscation so that very few people will know about the climbers and their
elegant solution and the general public will continue to believe it
impossible. In other words to create the climate of ignorance and
opposition that organic farming has faced from the start.

The reason for this still very active attempt to villainize organic farming
is that our success scares the hell out of the other side. Just like the
fear of Nature that the merchandisers and scientists have worked so hard to
create in farmers, in order to make purchased chemical products and
reductionist science seem indispensable, so has our success with organic
farming created in the scientists and merchandisers a terrible fear -- a
fear of their own redundancy. A fear that agriculture will realize that
other solutions are possible. A fear that agriculture will learn the truth.
Organic farmers have succeeded in producing a bounty of food through the
simple means of working in harmony with natural processes, without any help
from the scientists and the merchandisers. If us rock climbers/farmers can
make it up that impossible cliff on our own, then we have proved them to be
very dispensable indeed, and we are consequently very frightening.

Since the 1930s, organic farming has been subjected to the traditional
three-step progression that occurs with any new idea directly challenging
an orthodoxy. First the orthodoxy dismisses it. Then it spends decades
contesting its validity. Finally, moves to take it over. Now that organic
agriculture has become an obvious economic force, industrial agriculture
wants to control it. Since the first step in controlling a process is to
define (or redefine) it, the U.S. Department of Agriculture hastened to
influence the setting of organic standards -- in part by establishing a
legal definition of the word "organic" -- and the organic spokespeople
naively permitted it.

Wise people had long warned against such a step. Thirty years ago, Lady Eve
Balfour, one of the most knowledgeable organic pioneers from the 1930s,
said, "I am sure that the techniques of organic farming cannot be
imprisoned in a rigid set of rules. They depend essentially on the attitude
of the farmer. Without a positive and ecological approach, it is not
possible to farm organically." When I heard Lady Eve make that statement at
an international conference on organic farming at Sissach, Switzerland, in
1977, the co-option and redefinition of organic by the USDA was far in the
future. I knew very well what she meant though, because by that time I had
been involved long enough to have absorbed the old-time organic ideas and I
was alert to see the changes that were beginning to appear.

When you study the history of almost any new idea it becomes clear how the
involvement of the old power structure in the new paradigm tends to move
things backwards. Minds mired in an industrial thinking pattern, where
farmers are merely sources of raw materials, can not see beyond the outputs
of production. They don't normally consider the values of production nor
the economic benefits to the producers. While co-opting and regulating the
organic method, the USDA ignored the organic goal. And since it is the
original organic goal, and not the modern redirection set on course by the
USDA, which I believe can save the family farm, we need to know the
difference. To better convey this difference, I like to borrow two words
from the ecology movement and refer to "deep" organic farming and "shallow"
organic farming.

Deep-organic farmers, after rejecting agricultural chemicals, look for
better ways to farm. Inspired by the elegance of Nature's systems, they try
to mimic the patterns of the natural world's soil-plant economy. They use
freely available natural soil foods like deep rooting legumes, green
manures, and composts to correct the causes of an infertile soil by
establishing a vigorous soil life. They acknowledge that the underlying
cause of pest problems (insects and diseases) is plant stress; they know
they can avoid pest problems by managing soil tilth, nutrient balance,
organic matter content, water drainage, air flow, crop rotations, varietal
selection and other factors to reduce plant stress. In so doing,
deep-organic farmers free themselves from the need to purchase fertilizers
and pest-control products from the industrial supply network -- the
mercantile businesses that normally put profits in the pockets of middlemen
and put family farms on the auction block. The goal of deep-organic farming
is to grow the most nutritious food possible and to respect the primacy of
a healthy planet. Needless to say, the industrial agricultural
establishment sees this approach as a threat to the status quo since it is
not an easy system for outsiders to quantify, to control, and to profit

Shallow-organic farmers, on the other hand, after rejecting agricultural
chemicals, look for quick-fix inputs. Trapped in a belief that the natural
world is inadequate, they end up mimicking the patterns of chemical
agriculture. They use bagged or bottled organic fertilizers in order to
supply nutrients that temporarily treat the symptoms of an infertile soil.
They treat the symptoms of plant stress -- insect and disease problems --
by arming themselves with the latest natural organic weapons. In so doing,
the shallow-organic farmers continue to deliver themselves into the control
of an industrial supply network that is only too happy to sell them
expensive symptom treatments. The goal of shallow-organic farming is merely
to follow the approved guidelines and respect the primacy of international
commerce. The industrial agricultural establishment looks on
shallow-organic farming as an acceptable variation of chemical agribusiness
since it is an easy system for the industry to quantify, to control, and to
profit from in the same ways it has done with chemical farming. Shallow
organic farming sustains the dependence of farmers on middlemen and
fertilizer suppliers. Today, major agribusinesses are creating massive
shallow organic operations, and these can be as hard on the family farm as
chemical farming ever was.

The difference in approach is a difference in life views. The shallow view
regards the natural world as consisting of mostly inadequate, usually
malevolent systems which must be modified and improved. The deep-organic
view understands that the natural world consists of impeccably designed,
smooth-functioning systems that must be studied and nurtured. The
deep-organic pioneers learned that farming in partnership with the natural
processes of soil organisms also makes allowance for the unknowns. The
living systems of a truly fertile soil contain all sorts of yet-to-be
discovered benefits for plants -- and consequently for the livestock and
humans who consume them. These are benefits we don't even know how to test
for because we are unaware of their mechanism, yet deep organic farmers are
conscious of them every day in the improved vigor of their crops and
livestock. This practical experience of farmers is unacceptable to
scientists who disparagingly call it mere "anecdotal evidence." Good
farmers contend that since most scientists lack familiarity with real
organic farming, they are passing judgment on things they know nothing

It is difficult for organic farmers to defend ideas scientifically where so
little scientific data has yet been collected. However, the passion is
there because the farmer's instincts are so powerfully sure that
differences exist between organic and chemical. I often cite an experience
of mine in an unrelated field -- music -- in defense of the farmer's
instincts. Twice I have been fortunate to hear great artists perform in an
intimate setting without the intermediary of a sound system. The first was
a sax player, the second a soprano. The experience of hearing their clear,
pure tones directly, not missing whatever subtleties a microphone and
speakers are incapable of transmitting, was so different and the direct
ingestion of the sound by my ears was so nourishing (that is the only word
I can think of), that I remember the sensation to this day, and use it as a
metaphor for differences in food quality. That unfiltered music is like
fresh food grown by a local deep organic grower. That same music heard
through a sound system is like industrial organic produce shipped from far
away. Through a poor sound system, it is a lot like chemically grown

Like most other farmers, I am aware of the reaction of my customers,
especially young customers, as evidence of the advantages of organic over
chemical farming. Children are notorious for hating vegetables, but that is
not what I hear from parents in the neighboring towns in response to the
vegetables we grow on our farm. The eating quality of our vegetables has
won out over all the junk food advertising. We have been told that our
carrots are the trading item of choice in local grade school lunch boxes.
We have been told by stunned parents that not only will their children eat
our salad and eat our spinach, they ask their parents specifically to
purchase them. I put great faith in the honest and unspoiled taste buds of
children. They can still detect differences that older taste buds may miss
and that science cannot measure.

Lately, there has been a lot of talk alerting us to the takeover of many
organic labels by the industrial food giants. But to anyone who worries
about the survival of small farms, I say the sky is not falling. These
takeovers only involve industrial shallow organics. They only involve those
companies large enough to attract takeover money. Most of these companies
sell processed foods, which are substandard nutritionally, whatever the
provenance of their ingredients. When the organic version of the Twinkie
eventually appears, it will be immaterial who controls it. Some of these
companies do sell staple foods, but they only meet the shallowest of
standards, thus ignoring those valuable production practices that only
family farmers seem to care about any more.

In other words the only organic companies that have been bought out are
those whose quality is so dubious you don't want to buy their food no
matter how many times they can legally print the word organic on the label.
Real food comes from your local small farms, run by deep-organic farmers.
These farms won't be bought out because they are too honest and too focused
on quality over quantity to attract the takeover specialists. Small,
committed, organic family farms are the fastest growing segment in U.S.
agriculture today. Old-time deep-organic farming will save these farms
because there will always be a demand for exceptional food by astute
customers who can see past the hype of the USDA label and realize the
importance of making their own fully informed decisions about food quality.

In Gravity's Rainbow Thomas Pynchon says, " If they can get you asking the
wrong questions, they don't have to worry about the answers." The question
we now need to ask is not "is it organic?" but rather "is it nutritious?".
I firmly believe that quality food is vital to the well being of humans and
other animals. Therefore, as a grower, I have an awesome responsibility.
Organic farming has to be much more than the absence of the negatives --
chemicals and pesticides. The area where organic farming must excel is the
presence of the positives -- the full nutritional complement of the
foodstuff. I have read a number of articles by paleopathologists who have
studied the skeletal remains of hunter-gatherers. Most significantly, they
remark on the superior health and stature of the hunter gatherers compared
to modern humans. They attribute the difference to the very natural diet
which our ancestors ate. Well, since deep organic agriculture is a human
managed copy of natural processes, we have it in our power to make our
agricultural products as nutritious as those wild foods. We need to make
sure we are managing those processes with the greatest possible skill and
care to produce food that contains everything Nature designed it to
contain. That means varieties chosen for taste and nutritional value, two
factors that are closely related. That means creating growing conditions
aimed at optimizing the plants physiological potential. The soil's ability
to deliver every mineral in balance is the key to that goal and we pay
close attention to trace elements, soil aeration, and making exceptional

The success of organic farmers has proven that it is best for the health of
the soil not to have our soil food manipulated by industry. Doesn't it
follow logically that it is best for the health of humans not to have our
human food treated that way. The food we eat should obviously be fresh but
I mostly want it to be what I call "real". I can't imagine a livestock
farmer feeding hay with parts removed, or silage with preservatives, or
ultra-pasteurized milk to a calf, or a grain ration made with white flour,
hydrogenated soy margarine and sugar. Surprisingly, products like that,
with "organic" labels, are sold in "health food" stores to be fed to
people. That is not my idea of organic. Our vegetables fill the produce
cooler of our local food co-op. That is "real food." But the shelves
overflowing with over-processed junk in the rest of the store are not in
the same category. One day at lunch when I was ranting about this. I said I
wanted to open a store that only sold "real food". My wife Barbara, who
tries to bring order to my more extreme impulses with gentle humor, said
that was nice and she had the perfect name for the store. I could call it
the "Wholier Than Thou Market."

Well, I am very serious about the need for such a store although I'm sure I
don't have time to open it. I offer the idea and the store name to anyone
who would like to take the next step beyond where industrial pressure has
stalled the organic movement. This food store would sell nothing packaged.
Breads and crackers would be whole and made fresh daily. There would be no
aged bags of flour but only whole grains for the customer to grind into
fresh flour with the store's mill. Milk would be raw from a local grass fed
herd and so would the butter. If you wanted juices they would be squeezed
fresh into your own glass container. Meat, poultry and eggs would be local
and range fed. The produce would be fresh year-round from nearby fields and
greenhouses. The only processed foods would be the traditional ones like
cheese, yogurt, sauerkraut, pickles, dried tomatoes, wine and beer. The
only sweeteners would be honey and maple syrup. Real food. We all know what
it is.

You can easily imagine the displeasure of the food processors with the
"Wholier Than Thou Market." They are already dismayed at nutritionist Joan
Gussow's truthful reference to their products as "value added,
nutritionally degraded." But I'm convinced that it is in the best interest
of healthy humans to make food processors redundant. Furthermore, all the
items in the "Wholier Than Thou Market" would be purchased directly from
nearby growers. No middlemen, no energy intensive long distance shipping,
no need for preservatives. Whoops! We have just made a few other mercantile
groups redundant.

Is this radical? Possibly. But then organic farming seemed pretty radical
when I started. Does it make sense? Well, the implications of a large body
of nutrition research back it up. Will humans embrace the idea? That
depends. The propaganda from the food processors tries to make us think
their food is better just like the propaganda from the chemical companies
tried to make us believe their fertilizers were better. Both assertions are
false. In the cases of both eaters and farmers, they were sucked in by the
intentionally addictive nature of the processed foods and processed
fertilizers and the relentless advertising behind them. We must now decide
that we want to take charge of our body's nourishment as successfully as we
have taken charge of our soil's nourishment. Real food, whether for the
soil or for the body, takes more time and more commitment. But the reward
is the perfect world we would all like to see. Happy, healthy children and
adults optimally nourished with exceptional quality food. The drug
companies then become redundant also.

So, how did deep get turned into shallow and good food revert to mediocre?
It is a logical result in a world blind to the elegance of natural systems.
Humans think in terms of more milk rather than exceptional milk; cheaper
eggs not better eggs. Since modern humans mistakenly consider nature
imperfect, they focus on improving nature rather than seeking to improve
our understanding of agriculture and human nutrition within a perfect
nature. Humans want to change the rules rather than try to operate more
intelligently within them. A recent advertisement from a biotech company
pointed that out by highlighting the phrase, "Think what's possible." Yes,
it's true that these companies think they have the power to remake the
parts of nature they don't understand. However, if they understood them,
they would realize they don't need remaking. It is just our human
relationship with the natural world that needs remaking.

The historian Howard Zinn has written, "The truth is so often the reverse
of what has been told us by our culture that we cannot turn our heads far
enough around to see it." Organic farmers have done an admirable job since
the 1930's in turning heads around to see the whole truth about soil
nutrition. It is my hope that the universal year-round availability of
fresh, local, "real" food grown by deep organic farmers can allow us to
turn heads around far enough to clearly see the whole truth about human
nutrition as well.


1 comment:

Pyewacket said...

I was listening to NPR the other day, and they did a story about the nutritional content of vegetables. It was fascinating, mostly because common sense was being presented as if it were a counter-intutive new revelation. Did you know that not all heads of broccoli have the same level of nutrients? That things like the variety, the age, and the way the vegetable was raised can have a difference? Stunning! Or not, depending on if you've ever thought for one minute about your food. They then went to to mention that the Rodale Institute had done research that indicated that organic farming produces more nutritious crops - but quickly added that Rodale was set up to encourage organic farming, and that no one else had done research. The reasons why no one else would do research were left unexplored. So was the comment that breeders grow for storage and appearance, not nutrition. Of course, old-time breeders would breed for flavor, which probably connects to nutrition in certain ways (strongly-flavored and colored vegetables tend to have high nutritional value than milder, lighter ones). But the assumption that all breeders focus on primarily storage and appearance revealed the agribusiness lens through which the piece was written. And this on NPR. It's enough to make one just a little depressed.