Michael Pollan Immortalized as Heirloom Tomato

Tomato_michael_pollan Author and food luminary Michael Pollan has been widely praised for his thoughtful inquiries into how our food is produced and what it means for our health and environment. For his work and impact, he was recently named to Time's annual Time 100 list of noted figures.

So, it is not surprising that the next logical step in his apotheosis, would, of course, be his immortalization as an heirloom tomato.

According to anniesannuals.com:

'Michael Pollan' is an odd shaped mutant! (The tomato that is.) Egg shaped fruits are yellow with green stripes & some have little “nubbins” on the ends. Related to ‘Green Zebra’ but with a milder taste & a good amount of sweetness. Very popular in taste tests. Plus the bloom on this variety is reported to be quite showy. Nice! Named after the amazing author & teacher -whose books we highly recommend.

As esteemed as Pollan -- the writer -- may be, his tomato self is not immune from the vagaries of agriculture: "‘Michael Pollan’ is possibly susceptible to Blossom End Rot so make sure & water him evenly to prevent this from occurring. The tomato that is!"



I don't get this. Is this a new variety? If it is, then how can it be an "heirloom"?


I actually accidentally grew this variety last year in Austin, TX after buying what I thought was a Chocolate Cherokee plant. Very productive up until the heat hit the 100's and it went into survival mode, but it did give us a second wave of fruits once the fall set in. Good variety and happy to see it identified.


Cool. Sounds delicious. (The tomato that is.)

I want one.



Kathy's confusion is understandable; the definition of "heirloom variety" is contested territory, and a lot of heavy hitters say it means an open pollinated (seed-savable) variety "developed at least 40 years ago," or "passed down by gardeners, not seed companies," or something else that says "must be from the past, nothing modern need apply."

Others (myself included, though heaviness of hitting is open to dispute) say "heirloom" is a once and future term. It applies not only to varieties that are historical now, but also to modern varieties and varieties not yet developed. What matters is the open-pollinated, seed-saving part. We ourselves will be history before long, and the new varieties we find and breed now will be heirlooms when our grandchildren plant them.


Kathy is right. If this is a new variety then it isn't an heirloom. There are many hybrids that are stable and open pollinated; so using open pollination as a litmus test for classification as an 'heirloom' doesn't work. What does work for classifying heirlooms is their age and provenance.

If this tomato is an heirloom then it already has a name and there's no reason to change that name. Other than genuflecting to Michael Pollan and trying to get his devotees to shop your company.


Thank you Mr. Brown Thumb!

"Heirloom as a once and future term" is presumptive doubleplusorganofoodiespeak.

Call them 'bequeathed tomatoes'!

It's being applied as a marketing term, so variably and deliberately misleading; on par with 'organic,' and 'raw' and 'whole' foods.

Future generations will decide what is 'heirloom.' A variety developed now by open-pollination/seed-saving is just that, a variety.

The constant misapplication of the term 'heirloom' by moneyed interests will probably 'market' the word away from its present meaning.


Mr Brown Thumb

no true hybrid is open pollinated. they can only be reproduced by crossing the original parent lines.


'Michael Pollan' is not an heirloom but a new variety selected by Brad Gates of Wild Boar Farms from heirloom stock. Brad doesn't call it an heirloom. He grows the majority of his tomatoes for the fancy Bay Area restaurant trade and was generous to share seed for several of his varieties with us. Michael Pollan, the writer, has trialed Wild Boar Farms varieties in his Berkeley garden, including his namesake, and given them a big thumbs up for flavor and vigor. Go Brad!! More info on Brad's outrageous tomatoes here: http://www.wildboarfarms.com/

Elayne Takemoto
Annie's Annuals & Perennials


Heirloom means to me just that.. It has been grown for a certain length of time in the past and so this variety is not a heirloom but just that a variety. Perhaps 40 years from now it might be called that but not now. I fee it is an attempt to confuse growers into thinking it has been grown in the past. To be the reason why I use heirlooms is because of its genetics of being grown in a organic environment.

thanks for allow my response.

andy Lopez
Invisible Gardener


For those of you missing her here is a picture of her in her well earned retirement. Talk about a dog’s life.


Mereka adalah pengganti kayu dibingkai struktur bangunan biasa dan traditionsl. bangunan baja ini


I came here looking for recipes for my (abundant) Michael Pollan tomatoes. I am wondering if they would can well as a tomato sauce. Or... any other fun ideas. Anyone?


nice post


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