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PomariumRenaissance®: Wild or Not-Wild?

We grow our fruit in an orchard…so how can we call our fruit wild?
There isn’t much of a precedent to guide how we should describe the wild features of our fruit. It is naturally wild-flavoured. It is wild-sourced. But can something that is grown deliberately, cultivated, still be described as "wild"?

Partly this is a problem of not having access to sufficient words in our language. But mostly it's because the idea of integrating or injecting wild into agriculture, of what it might mean to cultivate wild foods, has been absent in recent times. Gathering wild foods by foraging or harvesting nuts in forests is different from cultivating wild-sourced trees in an orchard--more of an in-between concept that blurs the lines we normally rely on to categorize our foods.

Throughout the ages, foods adapted from the wild have undergone changes over time as they have begun to be cultivated and gradually become domesticated. People selected seeds for all sorts of reasons...such as those most likely to produce larger fruit or plants, disease resistance, unusual characteristics, visual appeal, tolerance of drought or wet conditions, desired colours, fit for some specific location, storability, and, of course, whatever flavour was in fashion for whatever reasons. In the process of being selected to be cultivated,, and that selection continually 'improved' upon over time, the nutritional profile of those plants also changed.

This same process of gradual change through trial and error over time has resulted in the now commercially available varieties of common eating-apple with which everyone is familiar. The trees that produced the desired eating-apples now require extensive assistance from humans in order to survive and thrive.


But in the beginning…before eating-apples became an agricultural industry, before varieties were given names, before people began the process of selecting apples by cloning trees from the wild and trying to breed new features into favourite apples.before all of that, what are now domesticated eating-apples were also wild. And now they have been tamed. They are tame not because they are grown in orchards but, much more importantly, because only a few of the wild apples were carried forward into a relationship with humans. Rejects paled when compared to the flavours of the chosen apples. Wild flavours were rejected as unsuitable for fresh eating or bred out of apples as they were cultivated (on purpose or unintentionally as byproducts of breeding out other qualities). The eating-apples varieties that became most popular all had a low acid, sweetness, visusal appeal and so forth.

Wild apples are not always small and bitter. For example, the McIntosh apple was cloned from a seedling found by chance. It was selected to be grown in orchards because people wanted to eat that particular fruit more than they wanted to eat fruit from other nearby seedlings. But not because it tasted wild.

 

We, on the other hand, are selecting which seedlings to grow in our orchard precisely because of wild flavour. Instead of searching out fruit that has a tamer flavour or breeding new varieties to eliminate the wild flavour, we continue to search for the best wild flavours that can be blended together into a very complex taste experience. It is no accident that what makes our fruit flavourful is directly related to varied phytonutrients (also called phytochemicals), some more flavourful than others. Trees themselves use phytonutrients to protect their own health and reproduce. Many of these phytonutrients are, in turn, sought by humans to manage human health. When our focus is human health, we refer to these phytonutrients as polyphenols. Phloridzin, for example, is a polyphenol (a phytonutrient) that is present in significantly higher quantities in the fruit of our wild-sourced trees than in fruit from commercial, domestic, eating-apple trees (Malus domestica).

Aside from being wild-flavoured, fruit in our orchards is limited to being grown on trees that produce small fruit. "Small" means less than 2” in diameter, the same criterion used to distinguish crabapple varieties from familiar "apple" varieties (Malus domestica). Much of our fruit is cherry-sized. Handling such fruit is much more labour intensive than handling larger sized apples. But small fruit has an advantage that works in favour of Pomarium Renaissance®. Each small fruit, in contrast to larger apples has a higher ratio of peel (i.e. that part of the fruit that is designed to protect the flesh while seeds mature). The peel can make a significant contribution to flavour, in part at least because it is armed in defense-mode with phytonutrients to deter and resist oncoming threats to the tree and its fruit.

 

Michael Pollan wrote in 1998 about how "domestication" shows itself in "our knack for marrying the fruits of nature to the desires of culture", how domestication of apple trees has been "overdone" to the detriment of being able to grow healthy apples commercially without significant human intervention, and the need to "cultivate" wildness in order to make commercial apples more resistant to diseases and pests and less dependent on humans. See: http://michaelpollan.com/articles-archive/breaking-ground-the-call-of-the-wild-apple/ But he concluded that there is a solution:

"In the best of all possible worlds, we'd be preserving the wild apples' habitat in the Kazakh wilderness. In the next best world, though, we'd preserve the quality of wildness itself, something on which it turns out even domestication depends."

and more...

"Luckily for us, wildness can be cultivated, can thrive even in the straight lines and right angles of an apple orchard."

 

Reconnecting humans and small wild-flavoured apples, we tilt our heads with a nod toward Kazakhstan, the source of origin of all apples. Pomarium Renaissance® brings the quality of wildness to the market in the form of an exquisitely complex taste experience. A small-batch, crafted juice that requires no additional assistance from supplemental flavours, colours, or sweeteners.

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