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Fri Feb 8, 2013, 10:59 AM

There used to be 408 varieties of tomato. Guess how many we have now.

From National Geographic dot com

40 replies, 2861 views

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Reply There used to be 408 varieties of tomato. Guess how many we have now. (Original post)
TalkingDog Feb 2013 OP
Berlum Feb 2013 #1
TalkingDog Feb 2013 #2
KittyWampus Feb 2013 #34
el_bryanto Feb 2013 #7
trotsky Feb 2013 #9
el_bryanto Feb 2013 #12
trotsky Feb 2013 #13
laundry_queen Feb 2013 #16
littlewolf Feb 2013 #31
TexasProgresive Feb 2013 #15
dballance Feb 2013 #27
trotsky Feb 2013 #33
TexasProgresive Feb 2013 #37
dballance Feb 2013 #38
Sadiedog Feb 2013 #40
MattBaggins Feb 2013 #22
dixiegrrrrl Feb 2013 #25
Earth_First Feb 2013 #3
KurtNYC Feb 2013 #4
The Second Stone Feb 2013 #17
Mojorabbit Feb 2013 #20
KurtNYC Feb 2013 #23
DollarBillHines Feb 2013 #28
KittyWampus Feb 2013 #36
Retrograde Feb 2013 #35
Mnemosyne Feb 2013 #5
OnyxCollie Feb 2013 #6
drm604 Feb 2013 #8
bhikkhu Feb 2013 #10
marmar Feb 2013 #11
laundry_queen Feb 2013 #14
Brother Buzz Feb 2013 #18
Gman Feb 2013 #19
Spider Jerusalem Feb 2013 #21
thelordofhell Feb 2013 #24
Liberal_in_LA Feb 2013 #26
pansypoo53219 Feb 2013 #29
oberliner Feb 2013 #30
Lone_Star_Dem Feb 2013 #32
politicat Feb 2013 #39

Response to TalkingDog (Original post)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 11:01 AM

1. What could possibly go wrong?

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Response to Berlum (Reply #1)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 11:08 AM

2. Surely not a blight or disease that wipes out an entire species because of a lack

of genetic diversity.....

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Response to TalkingDog (Reply #2)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 02:37 PM

34. this is the exact reason I start with in opposing Monsatos GM crops.

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Response to Berlum (Reply #1)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 11:21 AM

7. By 83?

I guess it's possible. I find that chart fascinating but would like more info on what caused this.

Bryant

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Response to el_bryanto (Reply #7)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 11:34 AM

9. It's not quite the "ZOMG! MONSANTO!" conspiracy some think.

Some of varieties aren't widely available because frankly, they suck. Highly susceptible to blight and disease. Or they have a very narrow growing region. Or they just don't taste very good. There are some innocent reasons along with the bad ones (certain varieties ship better, look redder, etc.).

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Response to trotsky (Reply #9)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 11:36 AM

12. Yeah - it's one of those things -

But the shameful side is that in some cases breeds were selected because they looked more "tomato-y" so those breeds were worth more to buyers and distributors, and Farmers naturally followed along.

Bryant

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Response to el_bryanto (Reply #12)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 11:39 AM

13. Yep.

It's been fun seeing heirloom varieties in stores and markets - all those colors and shapes. A tomato doesn't have to be perfectly round and red to be delicious!

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Response to trotsky (Reply #13)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 11:43 AM

16. I've been noticing more in our local store

They had heirloom rainbow carrots grown by a local grower, heirloom purple tomatoes and so on. I make a point of buying those varieties to support local growers and hopefully to increase diversity in farmed crops.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #13)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 02:09 PM

31. yummm I have noticed alot more herilooms

in most of the seed placed also. a good sign.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #9)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 11:43 AM

15. Like the ones commercially grown and sold in stores taste good. n.t

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Response to TexasProgresive (Reply #15)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 12:53 PM

27. So True. The store-bought were never as good as what we grew in our garden. /nt

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Response to dballance (Reply #27)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 02:30 PM

33. Oh and you can bet they probably never will be.

Those luscious ones from the garden get hand-carried a few dozen feet to the kitchen and do alright.

But put a crate of them on a truck and I guarantee you'd have marinara sauce at the end of the trip.

That's unfortunately just the way it goes. They are a delicate fruit and they have to be a tougher hybrid to ship well.

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Response to dballance (Reply #27)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 06:37 PM

37. But at least they used to taste like a tomato

Not a great tomato but it was a pinkish ball that taste like reconstituted sawdust

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Response to TexasProgresive (Reply #15)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 09:44 PM

38. I Love it in the Spring and Summer When the Farmers' Markets are Open

We have several famers' around where I live. The best place to get fresh veggies and other good stuff like real home made preserves and even fresh, wild seafood - not farmed. If you have one near by you should patronize way before thinking about going to Whole Foods. It's worth the extra effort to get the great food.

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Response to dballance (Reply #38)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 11:17 PM

40. Yes Farmers` Markets rock!

I am always a happy camper when the market opens, plus I get to sell my bead work and barter with the other vender's for things they make or grow.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #9)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 12:01 PM

22. How many of those 408 varieties were in fact

the same variety sold under different names?

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Response to trotsky (Reply #9)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 12:38 PM

25. a key question is how many "true" varieties have been replace by hybrids.

You are of course correct in why many varieties are not widely available.
Of concern is how many varieties remain which are not hybrid.
Fortunately Seed Savers Exchange, and Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds ( they sell 1400 open pollinated varieties from around the world) are still available for us seed purists.

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Response to TalkingDog (Original post)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 11:10 AM

3. That's why I love organizations like Seed Savers...

I couldn't possibly grow the amount of varieties they still offer.

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Response to TalkingDog (Original post)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 11:16 AM

4. A: 3,000 heirloom varities and 10,000+ known

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Response to KurtNYC (Reply #4)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 11:44 AM

17. Yep. Tomatoes are in fact expanding in number

of varieties. Getting them on the table is the difficult part.

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Response to KurtNYC (Reply #4)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 11:52 AM

20. exactly. i try anf grow out one rare heirloom type a year.nt

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Response to Mojorabbit (Reply #20)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 12:22 PM

23. I am hopeful that flavorful, great textured tomatoes will rise in availabilty thanks to

entities like LufaFarms of Montreal. The recapture the heat from buildings and use it in climate controlled greenhouses, which is great but not especially novel. The great part is they want to use the controlled climate and short distance to consumers to grow something much better than "hothouse tomatoes" -- in other words, shelf-life be damned; we want taste and texture!

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Response to KurtNYC (Reply #23)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 01:15 PM

28. In April, our town will host TomatoMania, a 2-day event

featuring 250+ varietals (seedlings).

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Response to KurtNYC (Reply #23)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 02:39 PM

36. I have suggested updated "sod roofs" in urban areas.

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Response to KurtNYC (Reply #4)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 02:37 PM

35. My current Totally Tomatoes catalog lists over 250 varieties

(They're evil, but I forget exactly why. Their seeds do well for me) They have a large selection of open-pollinated varieties as well as F1 hybrids, and there are many, many more that they don't stock. And they're a pretty mainstream company - there are specialty seed vendors that offer a lot more.

Commercially there probably aren't that many varieties grown (I doubt anyone grows the Santa Clara Canner anymore), but there are many, many home gardeners keeping old breeds alive, since that's the only way to get a decent tomato.

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Response to TalkingDog (Original post)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 11:20 AM

5. That is chilling. nt

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Response to TalkingDog (Original post)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 11:20 AM

6. NRaleighLiberal is the man to ask about tomatoes. nt

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Response to TalkingDog (Original post)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 11:28 AM

8. Here's a site that lists 4,385

http://t.tatianastomatobase.com:88/wiki/Category:Tomato_Variety_List

Your graphic says that 79 were found in the National Seed Storage Laboratory, not that there are only 79 in existence.

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Response to drm604 (Reply #8)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 11:35 AM

10. I was going to say - I'm pretty sure I could find more than 79 in my seed catalogs

I've grown over 20 varieties in my small garden over the years, and that was barely scratching the surface of what there is around. People love their veggies, and there's heirloom varieties that are still treasured everywhere!

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Response to TalkingDog (Original post)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 11:35 AM

11. And your average supermarket tomato these days is almost tasteless.

nt

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Response to marmar (Reply #11)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 11:41 AM

14. Yep

most are grown for storage qualities now. Which means they look beautiful but taste like mushy dirt. Actually I take that back - dirt is likely more flavorful.

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Response to TalkingDog (Original post)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 11:47 AM

18. There were more than 408 varieties of tomatos if you count the wild tomatoes from South America

UC Davis professor Charles M. Rick Jr. was a collecting fool when it came to wild tomatoes from South America alone. I heard him talk tomatoes years ago; he knew tomatoes!

Recognizing the potential value of wild germ plasm as a genetic reservoir for the improvement of the domestic crop, Charley undertook 15 expeditions to South America, between 1948 and 1995. In the Andean regions of Peru, Ecuador and Chile and the Galapagos Islands, he collected 700 specimens among the native populations of all the Lycopersicon species and the related Solanum species. (Many populations are now extinct in their native habitats.)

The C.M. Rick Tomato Genetics Resource Center has about 250 varieties at their banks (bummer, the seeds are only available for bona fide researchers :
http://tgrc.ucdavis.edu/Data/Acc/dataframe.aspx?start=AccSearch.aspx

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Response to TalkingDog (Original post)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 11:52 AM

19. Only a narrow few varieties are grown commercially

For various reasons.

As someone who is growing 8 varieties of seedlings right now under grow lights, there are some I plant every year, some I won't grow again for various reasons. If the number of varieties has declined, Monsanto has nothing to do with it. It's more because nobody wants them.

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Response to TalkingDog (Original post)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 12:01 PM

21. "found in the National Seed Storage Laboratory"

and meanwhile a look at online garden supply places shows several with seed for many more than 79 tomato varieties (including some significant number that were cultivated in Europe and are largely unknown in America). In point of fact I would suspect that the number of varieties of any fruit or vegetable cultivated by large industrial-scale agricultural giants like Monsanto et al is some tiny fraction of what people grow in their own gardens, and that what's grown in North America is, again, some fraction of the overall biodiversity in fruit and vegetable species to be found worldwide.

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Response to TalkingDog (Original post)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 12:24 PM

24. Still waiting for this one

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Response to TalkingDog (Original post)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 12:41 PM

26. what do we do about it?

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Response to TalkingDog (Original post)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 02:04 PM

29. i am pretty sure jung's offers more varieties than that.

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Response to TalkingDog (Original post)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 02:07 PM

30. Why does this matter?

Who cares how many varieties of radish there are?

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Response to TalkingDog (Original post)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 02:23 PM

32. Gardner, tomato junkie here. I've grown over 100 different varieties in my life.

I don't have my garden journal handy, but I passed that milestone in 2006. I'm not so much into trying out new ones anymore because frankly too many won't survive/thrive for me. Some are plagued by virus, others mildew/mold. Some just don't bear enough fruit for the time/water/space they use up. Some croak out in May, etc.

My point is there are more varieties than that still out there. I have a friend that loves trying to cross pollinate heirlooms to see if they can create something good. I'm sure they can't be the only person trying to create new tomatoes in their garden, which means more are being created as we speak.

Hybridized tomatoes are great if a person wants to grow a tried and true variety resistant to specific soil or environmental problems you may have in your area, but heirlooms are fun to experiment with and most taste yummy.

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Response to TalkingDog (Original post)

Fri Feb 8, 2013, 10:57 PM

39. Victory seeds has 345 tomato varieties listed.

All open pollinated, heirloom.

I grow Siberian tomatoes, because Colorado has weird weather -- freezes and snowstorms in May, drought year round, unpredictable autumn. Siberians can handle light freezes (28 degrees) and are adapted to shorter growing seasons with very long days and short nights.

Some Siberians are delightful in terms of flavor, but look like hell; others are beautiful and taste like cork. The plants can be difficult as well, being unruly and taking poorly to trellising. I suspect that nearly all tomatoes were this recalcitrant at one time; we've been domesticating them for centuries now, but they're all relatively recent domesticates.

I bought my first Siberian seeds from High Country Gardens, which is open to the public.

If the Seed Lab is not banking these seeds, it's not because they're not out there, and some varieties have died out because they weren't viable. I experimented one year with seeds that my great-great-grandmother saved in 1914. I sent most of the seeds we found in her box, about 50 grams, to several different repositories, but I kept a few grams of some, when we had a lot. I got about 20% of the seeds to germinate (not bad for then 90 year old seeds) and successfully got a total of 17 plants. Some were brilliant, but truly, paste tomatoes have improved significantly. Personally, I'm happy that the indeterminate gene has been selected in modern plants -- it's much easier to consume and preserve 5 pounds of tomatoes each week for 10 weeks than to process 500 pounds in 5 days. The current generation is also much more drought tolerant and significantly more resistant to blossom end rot.

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