Notecard: Citrus and bitterness

I tell the story of a type of wild citrus from northern India called memang narang. It has a cultural, culinary, and medicinal function, but the striking thing is how bitter these fruits are. The people who live here place huge value on bitterness, a flavor that’s disappearing from most of our palates. Fruit breeders, over centuries, have been ingenious at giving us something that we love: sweetness. They have bred out the bitterness. 

When you realize that the bitter taste comes from compounds that help plants protect themselves from pests, then you understand why it might be beneficial to retain that flavor. We’ve taken the beneficial bitter compounds out, and we’ve cloaked plants in pesticides and other chemicals to protect them.

The extinction crisis that no one’s talking about, a Vox interview with BBC journalist Dan Saladino

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