‘Row 7’

US company wants to grow vegetables for their taste, not their yield

After coming to the realization that the best-tasting vegetables aren’t bred for hardiness and therefore aren’t very lucrative for farmers to grow, world-renowned author and chef, Dan Barber, who runs two successful farm-to-table restaurants in New York, decided to team up with vegetable seed breeders to grow new, tastier varieties of vegetables that are meant to be more flavourful, in addition to lasting longer than the ones on the market today.

For example, Barber is a big fan of the heirloom varieties of tomato. But unlike a regular tomato that stays fresh despite long truck rides from farm to kitchen, heirloom tomatoes turn bad quickly and often have lower yields for farmers. This means it doesn’t make financial sense for farmers to grow them.

Unfortunately, in the world of breeders, yield, shelf life and uniformity are prioritized over more important things, like nutrition. But now there is ‘Row 7’ that promotes itself as “a seed company dedicated to deliciousness.”

Seven years ago, Barber challenged vegetable breeder Michael Mazourek to make a butternut squash taste better; it was the first time Mazourek had ever been asked to breed for flavour. Barber and Mazourek, along with Matthew Goldfarb, another seed grower and co-founder of Fruition Seeds, joined forces to launch Row 7 this past February.

Pantagraph.com describes how the company currently offers a selection of seeds “produced without synthetic chemicals and selected for organic systems.” According to Row 7's site, “These methods create strong, resilient plants capable of fending for themselves, without a cocktail of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Stronger plants literally are tastier plants.”

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