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July 9, 2008

Certified Marionberries

Looks like growers in Oregon have started a certification program to guarantee that what gets labeled 'Marionberry' really is:

Agency to Certify Oregon Marionberries (Seattle Times)

I find this kind of amusing, and not because of the idea of certifying something as a specific cultivar, which I actually like the idea of, though I'm not sure how many people care (I see mislabeled varieties of fruit for sale, the most common I think being Packham's Triumph pears labeled as Bartlett, which I see almost every year. I finally saw them under their own name this year at Nob Hill). No, I find this amusing for two reasons:

1) I find the name Marionberry amusing mostly simply because it remains me of the scandal-plagued ex-mayor of Washington, D.C., Marion Barry. Call me easily entertained, I guess. (Lady Evil Fruit, when I told her about this story, said "So how can the inspectors tell? Do they look for the crack pipe?) (There's also a Marion Berry who is a U.S. Congressman from Arkansas. I found his name amusing, too, but honestly hadn't thought of him since I lived there).

2) The fixation on Marionberries is simply painting growers into a corner. Marionberry is simply a cultivar of blackberries. A very tasty cultivar of blackberries, admittedly. But it's low yielding and kind of a pain to grow, and so to capitalize on the incredible taste, growers have pushed the idea of it as something distinct from blackberries. Which was all well and good, but ongoing breeding work either has or no doubt will (depending on who you ask) produce cultivars with similarly incredible flavor but without many of the downsides. However, people have tied themselves so thoroughly to the Marionberry name, they can't adopt the new varieties without damaging their brand. And now they're setting up a structure that will make it that much harder.

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5 Comments:

At 7/10/2008 09:24:00 PM, Blogger Brandon Hurr said...

Reminds me a bit of this whole copyright RIAA business model mess that we're in right now. Suing people so that you can keep your outdated business model.

You going to ASHS?

I'll be there. Maybe I can buy you a drink and pick your brain. Email me at my gmail and let me know. Or here, I'll check back.

 
At 7/16/2008 11:49:00 AM, Blogger Evil Fruit Lord said...

Sorry Brandon--did I ever respond to this comment? Anyway, no, I'm not going to ASHS. I'd like to, but I have too many travel obligations as it is.

 
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