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You say mutatoe, I say mutato
February 7, 2011 4:18 AM   Subscribe

The Mutato Archive is a collection of non-standard fruits, roots and vegetables, displaying a dazzling variety of forms, colours and textures, that only reveal themselves when lawfully enforced standards cease to exist.
posted by twoleftfeet (38 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
I feel bad that these make me feel vaguely yet significantly uncomfortable.
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:21 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also I am pretty sure that I saw a klein eggplant in there.
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:21 AM on February 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


only reveal themselves when lawfully enforced standards cease to exist
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 4:52 AM on February 7, 2011


How dumb do I feel that I thought you were talking about Mark Mothersbaugh. Even the description didn't throw me off that trail.
posted by NoMich at 4:52 AM on February 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


Indeed. (He is, after all, only a spudboy looking for a real tomato.)
posted by Sys Rq at 5:05 AM on February 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


The complete absence of botanical anomalies in our supermarkets has caused us to regard the consistency of produce presented there as natural.

Not entirely true. The botanical anomalies are there alright; they're just in the processed foods.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:07 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mmm, tomacco.
posted by fixedgear at 5:13 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's like the Mutter Museum of the produce aisle.
posted by Gator at 5:19 AM on February 7, 2011 [10 favorites]


The complete absence of botanical anomalies in our supermarketsgardens in your yards has caused usyou to regard the consistency of produce presented there as natural.
posted by DU at 5:46 AM on February 7, 2011 [11 favorites]


And I never thought there would be an opportune time to mention Blackadder: "The Thingy Shaped Turnip" ....
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:52 AM on February 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Years ago I used to shop at a supermarket in JP in Boston that sold misshapen fruits and vegetables for very cheap. I was broke at that point so it was even more awesome. You'd also never know what was for dinner, just show up, buy whatever ugly stuff they had that day for 10 cents each and figure something out. I wish the supermarkets in NYC had something similar.
posted by nathancaswell at 5:53 AM on February 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


"I am not an mutato! I am not a freak! I am a vegetable!" I ... am ... a ... tomato!",
posted by three blind mice at 5:56 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


The trouble with garden mutants is that you get so excited about showing everyone your pants-shaped carrot that you forget to eat it before it turns icky!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:08 AM on February 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


I never thought I would be putting "eggplant" and "NSFW" in the same sentence.
posted by thomas j wise at 6:11 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Where's the the Great Mutato?
posted by octobersurprise at 6:16 AM on February 7, 2011


I'd eat it.
posted by Quietgal at 6:26 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's not as mutated as some of those on the site, but Neil Gaiman had a devil tomato from which he made salsa.
posted by Medieval Maven at 6:28 AM on February 7, 2011


I never thought I would be putting "eggplant" and "NSFW" in the same sentence.

You're new to the internet aren't you?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:28 AM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm so happy to see that other people call them "mutatos"! I always buy the mutated fruits and vegetables, partly because I feel bad for them and partly because I want to absorb their powers.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 6:49 AM on February 7, 2011 [14 favorites]


Some of these made me feel inexplicably sad. Poor, mutated vegetables! They're like the Quasimodos of the vegetable world. They almost seemed in pain, with their weird outgrowths.

But then, every once in a while, one would make me smile.

Like the Rabbit Eggplant.
posted by misha at 7:00 AM on February 7, 2011


And... The thumbs up pepper! Seriously these are cool veggies! I took pictures of my rather unsafe for work horseradish root that I got in the Markale from a big hairy guy who sold herbal remedies.
Let's just say that the horseradish root had been taking it's male enhancement seriously.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 7:06 AM on February 7, 2011


We had a one-armed, friendly but borderline-mental fellow who used to wander the neighborhood with his lawn mower for hire who was full of lengthy fascinating bizarre tales. He often issued dire warnings about eating misshapen fruits and vegetables. They were the ones whose genes had been harmed by pollution or radiation, and your genes would get messed up too if you ate them.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 7:22 AM on February 7, 2011


You can get some funky-looking "mutatoes" on purpose, such as the charmingly-named "Peter Pepper." (Do they need a warning label? Warning: Peppers look like male genitalia.)

And of course kohlrabi is a mutant cabbage, but on purpose ... I think the fact that it looks like alien food is just an accident. (But it turns out little kids will eat ANYTHING if you show them how it looks like alien food first.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:31 AM on February 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


ut it turns out little kids will eat ANYTHING if you show them how it looks like alien food first.

You've got that right!
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 7:44 AM on February 7, 2011


Second row from the bottom, fifth from the right: there be yer hardcore tater.
posted by drlith at 8:37 AM on February 7, 2011


These veggies don't make me sad, they give me hope! Ah, my fellow mutants, mustered from all the phyla of the world.
posted by DrMew at 9:06 AM on February 7, 2011


What does "lawfully enforced standards" mean? If you force somebody to buy lumpy peppers at gunpoint, are those unlawfully enforced standards?
posted by benzenedream at 9:31 AM on February 7, 2011


Ten Creepy Plants that Shouldn't Exist

I'm pretty sure that creepy starfruit thing is actually supposed to look like that.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:54 AM on February 7, 2011


I can't stand food that has been purposely changed by controlled breeding; twisting and perverting the things that should remain natural. Just give me my plain old standard kale, collard greens, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, or broccoli.
posted by CaseyB at 10:43 AM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


What does "lawfully enforced standards" mean?

Up until a couple of years ago, the EU had ludicrously specific marketability standards for various kinds of fruits and vegetables. There were 8 pages on aubergines (aka eggplants) alone [pdf]. In 2008 a lot of the specific criteria were replaced with general criteria, and now only a relative few kinds of fruits and vegetables are subject to specific criteria (see here for the details [pdf]).
posted by jedicus at 11:17 AM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ah, solanaceae, how I love thee.
posted by ZaneJ. at 11:17 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


So am I the only one who imagined these poor veggies hoarsely moaning, "Kill...me....Kill...me..."?
posted by Gator at 12:05 PM on February 7, 2011


I can't possibly be the only person who thought that most of these really didn't look that strange, can I? I mean, very nice photography, cool shapes and all, but... do most people really assume that peppers and carrots aren't funny-shaped?
posted by Because at 1:52 PM on February 7, 2011


Some of these made me wonder whether the odd shapes result from our efforts to breed plants that grow more and bigger food. Maybe that's just my supermarket-brainwashed mind talking, but it seems like if you're always trying to grow a bigger, sweeter strawberry, that might lead to 8-lobed berries. Or if you're trying to get the same size eggplant vines to grow 10 fruits instead of 4, obviously they're going to grow together sometimes. It's only considered a bug because people look at the entire item and judge it when deciding whether to buy. If we chop the over-grown item up into pieces and wrap it in plastic on foam, consumers don't mind if the agricultural product looked lumpy and weird. So are these mutant veggies really any more "natural" than the ones that fit our standardized ideals?
posted by vytae at 2:07 PM on February 7, 2011


I just paused on the strawberry with an upturned nose, and came back here to say that I LOVE these. My first job was at a farmers' market. I worked for the farmer known around the market as The Pepper King. He had tomatoes (Roma, beefsteak, various heirlooms), eggplants (regular, Japanese, white, green-striped round Thai), cucumbers (pickling, regular, Long English, Armenian), squash (so many varieties...pattypans were my favourite because, look! look! flying saucers!), and the usual peppers as well as unusual ones like purple peppers (sweet), chocolate peppers (dark brown, sweet), and long thin red ones called Ring of Fire that were the hottest variety we sold. (Every week or two, somebody asked to try one of those to see how hot it really was. We said, "It really is really hot. You should have some bread or something like that ready. No? You sure? OK, take a bite from the tip. The tip's the coolest part. Seriously, you should start with just the tip." Some of them tried the tip. Some of them bit into the pepper further up. A look of consternation seized their faces, every one of them, and stayed there. Some customers sputtered, "OK that's really hot." Some of them said, "Whew. Um, help." We gave them a tomato to bite into, which in our experience helped immensely when we'd been munching too many hot peppers on the job. Some of them silently turned tail and walked urgently in the direction of the water fountains and prepared food stalls, with as much dignity as they could scrape up while tears ran down their faces.)

So anyway, one of the joys of the job, besides the gorgeous summer days, fresh air, and generally nicer and more engaged customer base than at grocery stores, was pulling out the eggplants with proboscises, the Siamese tomatoes and cucumbers (and...well honestly, Siamese twins or triplets or more, showed up among all the vegetables, every week), and the obscenely shaped peppers. We put them on display on top of the cash register. Customers admired them, gawked at them, had a good belly laugh, or eyed them warily and sidled away without saying anything.

I thought I remembered my boss telling me that supermarkets flat out refused to buy weirdly shaped produce or even just forked carrots from farmers. I couldn't google up detailed articles about this, but I found a book that touches on it, Jonathan Bloom's American Wasteland, which observes: "We've come to believe that perfect, uniform produce is normal."
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 2:33 PM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wasn't "The great mutato" an x-files episode?
posted by hal_c_on at 3:35 PM on February 7, 2011


You're thinking of The Post-Modern Prometheus. (I always loved that title and wondered how many people got the joke.)
posted by Gator at 7:33 PM on February 7, 2011


I can't possibly be the only person who thought that most of these really didn't look that strange, can I?

No, you aren't. These mutations are perfectly natural, and quite common. I grew up eating fruit and veg that looked like this, due to three factors:

- my grandfather grew a lot of our food
- we shopped organic when it was still a very niche product and all small farms
- we shopped at a low-cost produce store that sold produce the big chains passed on.
(and as an adult I joined a CSA for awhile, bonus round)

I don't think there was a single fruit or vegetable I would turn up my nose at - except the apples. A lot of the time, the nubs on nubby apples are hard or mealy. For the most part, if you cut up the weird-shaped stuff you'd never be able to tell it was weird-shaped, but you can often tell with apples. Word to the wise.

My grandpa would always take especial glee in any fruit or vegetable that looked like a person, and would try to decide which politician it resembled the most. Also, sometimes if it had a really great nose, he would carve out a little mouth and some eyes, and give it to us girls to play with.

Grandpa also grew ultra-long Greek squash, sometimes almost four feet in length, which at one point won him the "weirdest vegetable" prize in the county fair, and got his picture in the paper, leaning on a squash that went past his waist as if it were a cherished cane. That was one of the most memorable days I ever spent at my grandparents', actually. Literally everyone they knew still took a paper, and every single one of them called up to say hi. My grandfather was SO tickled by the whole episode.

So yeah, it's surprising to me that this is a thing. I guess I've always cherished the weirdo veg, though, so it shouldn't surprise me that others do as well.
posted by little light-giver at 8:32 PM on February 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


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