For Vegetable Connoiseurs, Heirlooms Are Hot

For Vegetable Connoiseurs, Heirlooms Are Hot

Food & Drink

For Vegetable Connoiseurs, Heirlooms Are Hot


We’ve all heard about works of art by Rembrandt and Van Gogh being sold at auction for millions of dollars, or things like John Lennon’s handwritten song lyrics auctioned off for hundreds of thousands.

At an auction in New York City last month, heirloom vegetables had their day in the spotlight.

Venerable New York auction house Sotheby’s held a fundraising auction of heritage vegetables and other special foodstuffs to benefit local farming programs. Bidders paid $1,000 each for crates of treasured veggies such as Joe’s Round peppers, Turkey Craw beans, and Lady Godiva squash. Keeping in the spirit of the charitable event, the veggies went to area food pantries.

The day-long event, called The Art of Farming, raised $100,000. It was part of Heirloom Vegetable Week, proclaimed as such by New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Heirloom or heritage vegetables have become extremely trendy in recent years, as people discover the difference in taste and appearance from their modern modified counterparts. As reported in The Wall Street Journal, heirloom varieties are generally more difficult to grow and less reliable in their yields. These factors make them less marketable to grocers, but perhaps add to their cache among aficionados.

One farmer who donated his Red Amish Deer Tongue Lettuce to the auction admitted that the lettuce is susceptible to disease and doesn’t travel well. Quoted for a story by Bonnie Alter for, he says the taste can’t be beat. “It’s superior to any lettuce that I know,” he said. “It’s a very tender leaf that just melts in your mouth.”

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