Gripe about farmers market

I went to a Salt Lake City UT farmers market today to look and see what Capsicum genetics were there.

One table had some red habanero but no information about what it might be. I took 3 specimens home and cut them open. They have so much less visible capsaicin than my own variety of orange habanero. Orange habs can get to 800k SHU without the super hot mutation that causes capsaicin to be secreted by the pericarp of the berries and not just the placenta, but most aren't that strong.

So the red habs are a bust.

I also picked up 5 "Trinidad scorpions" these orange beasts looked appropriate... when I asked the grower what type of Trinidad Scorpion they were he told me he had never heard there was more than one type! Well... whatever. At home I cut them open and they had no pericarp secreted capsaicin. Legit super hot peppers have this and these didn't. Still the form and shape of the berries represents good stable alleles that can be useful to me so despite these being open pollinated I will grow some test plants.

Next I found a man selling small packets of rather diminutive peppers that looked like C. chinense and I asked him about them. He claimed that the two slightly longer rough textured peppers were Fatali... they sure looked like orange ghosts though. I didn't say anything about that.

The others he explained were a cross of Peruvian White Bullets with Trinidad Scorpion. They were peach, red, orange and yellow and all an inch long or less and rather small and smooth except for one 3/4 inch pumpkin shaped orange hab looking specimen.

I asked him if they were F1, he told me then that he had only crossed them once 6 years ago and that he saved seeds each year and they had stabilized into a variety. I didn't bother educating him but it was clear he didn't have any understanding at all about isolation, genetics, hybridization or even how there is no such thing as a stabilized variety that produces an assortment of berry shapes, sizes and heat levels. He did such that each year the fruits were larger, but that is normal if he plants the seeds from the largest berries each year.

So at home I cut open the so called Fatali peppers and they had capsaicin oils lining the entire pericarp... fatali doesn't have that but ghost types do and that makes sense given the rough texture of the berries. There were very few seeds in them however but they are still worth growing put and seeing what occurs. Half ghost heterozygous genetics is still very useful to me.

The so called White Bullet x Trinidad Scorpion specimens were interesting and the red ones were loaded with seeds but not capsaicin, in fact none of them including the orange hab phenotype, had much capsaicin oil and the orange was visibly the strongest. There might be some nice color and flavor genetics in the mix in these non-isolated C. chinense specimens but the small size of the specimens undermines that and I don't want to take a few years segregating the color/flavor from the size and shape alleles so these are probably a dead end for me as well.

All in all I did get some interesting genetics but also learned that none of the vendors and growers at the market today had any real understanding of the botany of Capsicum species... but this is Utah and that isn't really a plot twist if you know what I am saying.

Gripe complete.
 
I should add that the orange peppers sold as Trinidad Scorpion in every case lacked the so called stingers on the berries. The phenotype is very UFO shaped and the calyx and seed traits suggest Capsicum annum.

The grower reported purchasing the seed as Trinidad Scorpion from a commercial seed source and the lack of pericarp associated capsaicin secreting vesicles, the lack of a wrinkled rough texture, the relatively low amount of capsaicin oils on the placental tissue and the overall texture and color of the berries indicates that they are not Capsicum chinense and are not Trinidad Scorpion. The grower lacked meaningful knowledge of Trinidad Scorpion and Capsicum botany in in general and is not specifically a Capsicum grower so isn't to blame for the mislabeled specimens. The seed source is not specifically a Capsicum oriented business either but sells seed to farmers and growers of numerous species.

In Utah most farmers and growers lack education about botany and taxonomy in general and it is very rare to find one that self educates or even reads much. It is very much a good old boy industry involving people who inherited land that was claimed after the natives that lived here were exterminated in a 15 year "war" over a century ago. The war doesn't even have a wikipedia page and is few know much about it other than there is a monument to the 65 white people who died while exterminating the many thousands of native people who lived here.

But people here care about that as much as they care about the botany and genetics of the crops they grow... they don't and they would rather not know. But it isn't uncommon for farmers to find old bones and skulls with bullet holes if they dig down into the fields. The unspoken rule here is that when excavation finds native remains is to pretend they don't exist.
 
Whew, that is a lot to unpack there Max.

Next time you may want to start and end with pepper talk when you are in the "Hot Pepper Talk" thread.

If you want, "The Lounge" is a place to go off the rails about anything that suits your fancy.
 
IMO, you are pretty lucky to have the opportunity to purchase chinenses at a farmers market. Here in the SF Bay Area, where there is no shortage of cork sniffing when it comes to farmers' markets, I've never even come across habaneros. I feel lucky to have one farmer that sells several annuum varieties and a couple varieties of frutescens at the farmers' market.
 
I ask, "what type of pepper is this?" He says, "Tabasco."
 
So it take it with a healthy grain of salt and enjoy the peppers. These farmers have enough on their plate feeding our community. It doesn't bother me that they don't educate themselves in horticultural genetics...let's be real, these farmers and their families work insane hours of punishing, stressful, and frequently hazardous labor. It's astonishing they have the energy to load their truck at 3AM so they can be at the farmers' market at 7AM. With a smile.
 
You lament about the genocide and land exploitation that your farmer might be taking advantage of (wittingly or unwittingly). I get it. But if you want to worry about exploitation, I invite you to redirect your energy at exploitative and destructive giants like Cargill, Purdue, Bayer/Monsanto, Syngenta and so many more. These are the present day incarnations of the homicidal and parasitic victors of that 15 year "war"...not your pepper grower.
 
Anyway, it sounds like you actually scored some really interesting peppers, even if they aren't precisely what the grower described. Seems especially fortunate that you have access to these varieties in SLC, where the climate isn't as capsicum-friendly as California. I hope you can cut your hardworking local farmer some slack.
 
 
The difficulty and stress of the farm life varies according to the methods and crops or husbandry involved. I've often been up far before dawn to move sprinklers through fields by hand. Many of the farmers market farms began as orchards and then had to become nursery and seasonal farms when the pollution was destroying fruit tree crops.

Farmers are taken for granted, certainly.

I don't lament the history but do find it ironic as that Capsicum originated here on Turtle Island and is native.

If I was in the Bay I would be looking for genetics in China town grocery stores and I'd look for more rural farmers markets a bit north of Sacramento.

The central focus of the gripe, aside from the representation of knowledge as empowering... is that among the sellers was an open willingness to misrepresent their wares as something they thought would be more attractive.

This is how an orange scotch bonnet became "Trinidad Scorpion" and a skinny orange ghost/hab type intermediate becomes a Fatali. A lot of people have aversions to hybrids and the dubious way to market them is to just give them a name that represents them as a specific selection instead of a heterozygous combination of alleles with both direct hereditary and additive properties...that is either open pollinated or self pollinated.
 
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