Sotheby's usually concerns itself with selling famous paintings, rare books, and plush estates. Later this month, however, the fourth-largest auction house in the world will push the cream of a different crop: the sort farmers actually yank from the ground.
On September 23rd, Sotheby's New York will host "The Art of Farming", a.k.a. the inaugural Tri-State Heirloom Vegetable Auction. According to a Wall Street Journal article published several weeks ago, the legendary block will be graced by $1,000 crates brimming with such rare wonders as the Turkish Orange Eggplant, Black Sea Man Tomato, Lady Godiva Squash, Red Amish Deer Tongue Lettuce, and Pink Banana Pumpkin.
Backed by food and farming bigwigs like Eric Ripert, Ruth Reichl, Dan Barber, this event will give wealthy folks a clear avenue through which to express support for the GrowNYC New Farmer Development Project and The Sylvia Center at Katchkie Farm--by buying crates, of course.
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We love supporting farmers who grow heirloom produce and the programs that benefit them as much as we like eating fruits and vegetables with names that sound like obscure pysch bands from the 60s. That said, we wonder if the ghost of the poor farmer who first sowed Red Amish Deer Tongue Lettuce down a few rows of Western Pennsylvania dirt in the mid-1800s isn't yanking out what's left of his hair at the prospect of a few pounds of veggies going for a cool grand. We are reminded us of the pristine fruits we saw selling for absurd sums at upscale fruit shops in Tokyo malls a year or so back. Forty bucks for a couple of bunches of purple grapes swaddled in protective foam, anyone?