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Growing Better Fruits and Vegetables


A new variety of purple broccoli. (Photo: Courtesy of Micaela Colley, Organic Seed Alliance)

A new variety of purple broccoli. (Photo: Courtesy of Micaela Colley, Organic Seed Alliance)


Consumers around the world benefit from large food stores and large-scale food production. They can buy many fruits and vegetables throughout the year that were once sold only a few months out of the year. But there is a price to pay for this year-round availability. The fruits and vegetables like tomatoes and strawberries often don’t taste as good as they once did. Researchers throughout the United States are working to change that.

Andrew Mace is a professional cook at a restaurant in Portland, Oregon.

“Parsnips, leeks, turnips, first of the year asparagus...”

Mr. Mace says he hopes the researchers can create fruits and vegetables that are easy to ship and store but also taste good.

“Something that’s not compromised for storability, or shape or disease resistance. It’s all about the flavor and it’s a more pure flavor.”

Across the United States, breeders, farmers, seed producers and professional cooks are working together to create vegetables that have more flavor, and more vitamins, too.

Jim Myers is a plant breeder at Oregon State University. He says he does traditional breeding. He says there is enough genetic variation to work with.

He tries to create fruits and vegetables that taste good but also have resistance to disease, can be stored for a long time and can be shipped without being damaged.

Mr. Myers says the lab has created a program to connect breeders with chefs. He says developers are going back to their traditional roots as breeders to improve vegetables.

Phil Simon is a vegetable breeder at the U.S. Agricultural Research Service. He has been working to create a better carrot for 35 years.

He says the “local food” movement in North America and other places is responsible for the increased interest in the flavor of food.

He says the more extensive local production of vegetables has caused buyers to seek better quality. He says local growers are seeking to provide more kinds of vegetables to meet the demand of buyers.

Many countries restrict imports of seeds and plants. So some of the new fruit and vegetables with increased flavor and nutrition are only available in the places they have been developed.

I’m Marsha James.

Tom Banse reported this story from Corvallis, Oregon. Christopher Jones-Cruise adapted it for VOA Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.

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Words in This Story

consumer n. a person who buys goods and services

benefit – v. to be helped

vitamin n. a natural substance that is usually found in foods and that helps your body to be healthy

variation n. a change in the form, position, condition or amount of something

Do fruits and vegetables taste different in your country depending on where you buy them? We want to hear from you. Write your thoughts in the comments section.

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