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Thursday, July 28, 2011

The war over peaches

Millions of peaches
  • Millions of peaches

Peaches made the front page of the New York Times’ website today. The article is about Georiga’s battle with South Carolina over which state really deserves the title of “Peach State,” something Georgia has claimed for more than 100 years. Georgians have debated whether our state's peaches are really the best-tasting peaches in the U.S. for a while, but the article takes some more quantifiable information into account.

"But by the 1950s, South Carolina had taken over as the biggest peach-producing state. Now, although quantities have dropped, it ships 90,000 tons a year compared with Georgia’s 40,000 tons, according to United States Department of Agriculture statistics. (New Jersey follows with 32,000 tons.)"

According to the article, peaches became South Carolina's state fruit in 1984 - 11 years before they became Georgia's in 1995. South Carolina has one certified organic peach grower - pretty sad, but not as sad as Georgia's zero. And that's not all:

"At the end of July, the University of Georgia will officially close its peach program. The head peach horticulturist left the job a couple of years ago. When budgets tightened recently, university officials decided to simply eliminate the position altogether. (Programs for blueberries and vegetables had to go, too.)

And if that was not enough, last week Georgia’s premier peach farmers had to head across the state line to South Carolina for a regional peach conference."

Ok, I had no idea UGA had a peach program. But that's beside the point. It seems that, in terms of actual peach production, South Carolina takes the cake..or pie or cobbler. Based on that information alone, I might say that it deserves the title of Peach State. But South Carolinians love that palm tree they plaster everywhere, and we love our peach, so let's just leave it at that. South Carolina can't be the Peach Palmetto State...that's just greedy.

What I'm wondering is whether South Carolina Peaches, or peaches from any other state, taste better than Georgia peaches. The article mentions sources from both sides - those who are loyal to Georgia peaches and those who prefer the fruit of our Northeastern neighbor. I'm not a peach person - the first time I had tasted a Georgia peach was after the Peachtree (ha ha) Roadrace this year, and at that time anything fruity and juicy tasted pretty good. I can't really attest to any state's peaches, so I'm interested to hear what people think about this issue. Based on the taste of its peaches, does Georgia deserve the title of Peach State?

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