Listen: Lane Selman on the Culinary Breeding Network
"Breeding network. Tell us about it sort of genesis and I think I in its creation story. There were peppers involved right. Yeah tell us about sore. Yeah so I worked for Oregon. State University Here in Oregon and I work on a project recalled novick which is the northern organic vegetable improvement collaborative and that is a project that's led by Oregon State University but also includes the organic Steve Alliance. That's up in Washington but works nationally University of Wisconsin at Madison and Cornell University so at each of those institutions there are breeders that breed at least part-time specifically for organic farmers. which have very different needs? A lot of the same needs a lot of gardeners I believe and and also and so so what we've done in this project project as Taking a lot of the breeding lines that all these different plant breeders are working on their specific organic systems and trial them on a lot. A lot of different firms all over the country to see how they perform On organic farms. And we compare them to varieties that we no are gonNA perform really well on farms. We also test out new varieties that come out. You know you open up your seats. How like right now? At this time of year we opened the seed catalogs catalogs and as farmers it's like. Oh Wow. There's always new varieties. Are They GonNa do well for me are not everyone's thinking that right So we trial all those And this one year we were trailing these sweet peppers so kind of like a roasting pepper. The ones that Corner Detoro they call them That are pointed me too. That are really nice for for have stick wall for roasting and we're trying to find a variety that would perform really well here in Oregon where we have You know we have short season. We have Also we have evenings at get really cool. Where a lot of times on the east coast like they say well but warmer so so we never really know a variety to perform really well? So we're looking for that And so we knew exactly what the farmers wanted out of a variety but And we're finding that out. We're doing all this work on the farms. But then I had the question like well. What about what they taste like grow great? They don't taste great then. That really isn't that helpful to the supermarket and gotten a really nasty. Exactly what do they really taste. Like and You know uh-huh as researchers we get stuck in this thing where we're like okay. Well let's just bite into it and give it a one two nine rating but I didn't really want to do that because mostly I didn't trust myself I know like I'm one person. And what do I know about what you know. How great a peppers when the taste or not and also to be honest? It's hard for me to be unbiased because I'm out there in the field. I'm looking at all of these and I really want to choose varieties That perform really well for farmers so I wanted to remove myself for the from the question. Right and so I asked a lot of chefs that I knew. I work at a farmers market in Portland Oregon at that time also and I asked a bunch of chefs to get together and taste them with me and they tasted them and they basically started identifying the different things that they liked about does peppers that went beyond just the flavor but actually the shape and the size right because practicalities of structure that make something in the same way that a piece of meat or fish or whatever is or isn't appropriate for a particular recipe or or you know a method of cooking that's right it's like exactly yeah. Yeah and he's thinking about waste to like hijacked and seeing the kitchen all these things that are very important and we I and I thought. Oh my gosh are the parameters that are actually creating these new varieties of tomatoes peppers of everything. Do they know. So what this was wealth of information that the shafts and other value added You know if someone's making hot sauce or something or just the end user. Do they a spend enough time interacting with them to understand what the knees are right right so you wanted to plug these these participants who were working around these same vegetables but not together yet. You plugged them together and made culinary breeding network exactly. Yeah started You know organizing these events wants to bring individual these individuals all these different stakeholders and Arthur system together which has extended into the public? Because we all are you know stakeholders orders and the food system. Yeah so so you have this interesting perspective because you're working with all these leaders. Many of whom we gardner types hypes don't necessarily hear about one of their writers who may not even know who breaded or developed it but you're you're interacting with all of these people as all the stakeholders and you have the chefs and produce managers managers and all these other approach fires and and farmers and seed growers and breeders and so forth So you get to see and hear about a lot of things that are kind of coming down the pike or or that are getting their starting to trend even before we gardner see them in a catalog may be so like from your instagram. which is at culinary breeding network? I know some of the crops that you especially love and I mentioned the Ridichio the intro so tell us about that one for instance and is that something that you all ever talked about among this group this these steak steak. Oh Yeah Yeah Yes well I could go on forever. So you're going to have to cut me off. I'll just say shush me. I I think at all well so I am Sicilian and I grew up With a lot of food and a lot of Italian food so this is something that has just been something thing that we consumed but it is not a crop or a vegetable that has consumed much in the United States but working with chefs There is an appreciation for different flavors. Other than sweet. I mean this is something that we see all the time. Plant breeding is the trend keeps going toward breeding sweeter and sweeter things but there there you know there are earthy masses in earthy nece and their bitterness and all these things that actually should be appreciated. I feel like in vegetables. So there's that kind of culture food culture kind of side that I really like about radio but additionally it is something that is very important and the Pacific northwest as well as where where you are in the North East to be Consuming for individuals. You know the public to be consuming. Because that's what we grow in these areas in the winter. We cannot grow lettuce. This is what I see a lot of times like in the farmers market setting is all these people come out and support farmers and the height of the season. When of course everything is so wonderful fola tasty why would you go to the grocery store And farmers markets and a lot of areas very plentiful. So it's convenient. You can go there but as soon as it starts here. Are you know it starts raining. And it's cold. It's not so nice to go to the farmer's market people go back to the grocery store and they're buying lettuce and cucumbers from places that are very far away. Yeah so I really want people to eat things that are grown here all year round so we have a campaign called winter vegetables. There's a website you wanNA restful dot dot com ridiculous part of that so With the Ridichio then one of the flavors that you get from it is the bitter. Not Sweet you were just talking about Sweden vegetables being something that a lot of people breed for and so forth and it's more cold tolerant so it can grow at a time when say lettuce can't even in northern areas And I would say from the pictures picture on your instagram. The even though it's the leaves of their the they look like flowers so beautiful and they're all these sort of lavender and Mauve move shades and modeled and just beautiful beautiful. Do grow it in your Home Garden. Yes I do actually Yes it's very rewarding. It's exciting exciting. It's it's kind of like I think I've always loved growing garlic because you plant. Yeah and it's like you don't see it and then all of a sudden you have this wonderful thing that you pull out the ground well ridichio you grow and you can harvest the leaves and eat the leaves but it heads up and it can get a lot of frost damage on the outside and get really slimy and you think Oh God you know. I've lost it. It's it's done and then you get out there and you start pulling off. These slimy lease and you get down to just a hidden jewel rally little head. That is beautiful and perfect. Yeah do you have any favorite variety seat one. Tell us about real quick. Oh sure Well I so one thing I wanNA wanted to mention this one of the reasons. Also that hasn't been grown a lot is that it hasn't been a lot of resources for a seed So uprising seeds does have have They have several They they love radio yeah they do have several and this year. I think it's the first time that they have released. The is so Tina we now and that is one. That is a pink until people are really drawn to the beauty salon called. Yeah roasted over Netto. And there's several varieties of those but that's a really beautiful"