Everything’s Coming Up Peaches

Craig McCord

Craig McCord › Craig possesses 23 guitars and cannot play any of them. He likes fresh grilled sardines with a ...

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You may be aware of Mas Masumoto’s peaches because of his biggest cheerleader, Alice Waters.

The Masumoto family was growing an heirloom peach variety that, while it possessed a delicious taste, wasn’t always cosmetically pleasing enough to buyers at big supermarkets.

And they were feeling the crunch on their bottom line.

They experiencing the first rumblings of losing their orchards. Even to the point of hiring a guy with a bulldozer to uproot their trees.

But, when the heavy machinery arrived, Mas found the strength to give it one more try–he told them ‘no thanks’ and asked them to turn around.

He went to his typewriter.

He was so eloquent, and I knew that I needed to taste his peaches. –Alice Waters

He was inspired to write an essay he entitled “Epitaph for a Peach” where he explained how he wasn’t just losing an heirloom peach orchards, but in the big picture, we all were losing small family farms.

He sent his essay to The Los Angles Times. It was published and the Masumoto ‘s mailbox starting filling up with supportive letters.

“Keep the peaches!” was the message from his readers.

Mas got down to business. He did his research. He visited farmers’ markets in and around San Francisco and Berkeley to find out what customers wanted and how to get his delicious peaches in front of people who care about their food.

Through his visits at farmers’ markets he was continually have conversations with chefs and farmers.

Somebody told somebody who told Alice Waters about Masumoto peaches.

When she heard about the peaches he was growing, Ms. Waters reached out to Mas.

This weekend on NPR’s The Salt, Dan Charles told this amazing peach story. Be sure to read his whole article.

He explains Ms. Waters enthusiasm about Mr. Masumoto and his peaches.

“He was so eloquent, and I knew that I needed to taste his peaches,” says Waters.

Waters started serving those peaches at her landmark restaurant, Chez Panisse, in Berkeley, and she sang the praises of the farmer who saved his heirloom orchard. “I have always wanted to support the people who are taking care of the land, and it’s that personal story that connects the food to the people who come and eat here,” she says.

Thank you, Mas Masumoto. Thank you, Alice Waters. Thank you, Dan Charles for telling us this amazing story.

Photo credit: Craig McCord