I’ve just finished reading a book that I highly recommend. I actually bought a few copies and sent them to a few people, and I don’t know that I’ve ever done that with a book. It’s The Fruit Hunters, by Adam Leith Gollner. In case you aren’t a book reader, it has also been made into a documentary which is well done.
The book is about fruit. There are over 2000 fruit in the world (by the societal definition of fruit—by the botanical definition it’s a much higher number). But in all likelihood, you have probably ever only tasted 20 or so fruits. This book is about why that is: why those fruits are the ones you find at the grocery store, what else is out there, and the people who are passionate about fruit.
Most of the fruits we see commonly at the grocery store were only developed in the last 100 years or so, and they are the ones available because they are hardy. They can survive being picked before ripeness, traveling in shipping containers, sitting in warehouses, and basically spending weeks between the tree and the grocery store. They are developed and treated to maximize crop yield and resistance to pests. They were not developed for taste.
More people have affordable access to fruit today than ever before, but that has come at the cost of quality and biodiversity. Big fruit is big business, so the legal regimes regarding importation are stacked against you ever getting to taste those thousands of other fruits unless you go to the trees yourself. The book will make you want to eat more fruit, shop at your farmer’s market, grow your own fruit, and it will make you want to travel.
And, for me at least, it re-instilled a sense of wonder in the world that sometimes I lose my way from. And it made me miss rambutans. Glorious, glorious rambutans.