“Giant space vegetables ‘could feed the world’“, says the Telegraph, according to which “it is thought the near zero gravity conditions in space result in super-sized fruit and vegetables with a higher vitamin content. … Struggling for space in giant hothouses at the Guandong Academy of Agricultural Sciences are 21lb (9.5kg) tomatoes and enormous watermelons.”
That’s interesting, but some skepticism may be appropriated. They do mention a more down-to-earth value of “harvests which are ten to 20 per cent higher than normal”, a big difference from the “ten times their normal size and weighing more than an average man” vegetables claimed in the same news item. What’s actually going on here? Are giant space vegetables really our salvation?
Well, actually giant vegetables are nothing alien, though this is a perfect excuse to tell the story of a famous Mexican case of the 1970s. It all happened in Valle de Santiago, where a simple peasant, José Carmen García Martínez, managed to harvest giant vegetables, from lettuce to onions, of a truly gigantic size.
Amid the oil crisis of the time (coincidence?), this was a big bizarre news item, and many TV crews flocked to see the huge vegetables. That included even the “Ripley’s Believe it… or not!” original TV series crew, from where many will perhaps remembers this.
It would be only an undefined “mystery” if it wasn’t for the involvement of another pal, one Óscar Arredondo Ramírez. The man had a photo shop (coincidence?) in Valle de Santiago, and was no stranger to bizarre things, having managed to take pictures of UFOs and Chac, the Mexican Nessie.
Arredondo advised Carmen García to tell that the “secret formula” to the giant vegetables came from… you guessed it, aliens (it would be hard to believe they came from Chac, the Mexican Nessie). It somehow also involved astrology, as the secret was to make special astrological charts for each seed, and plant them on exact times and dates determined by the stars. Spurious as it was, many took it seriously. Because the giant vegetables were a fact.
Despite claiming initially that the complete details of the secret formula could not be disclosed as “it would only make the rich, richer”, on 1977 Arredondo and Carmen García offered to share their secret with the National Agriculture Secretary with two conditions: the creation of a national park on Valle de Santiago and the construction of a local agriculture school.
On the same year, Arredondo also proposed an experiment that was undertaken. A field was divided and half had vegetables cultivated with conventional techniques, and the other half applied the “secret alien formula” for the giant vegetables. Would this be the beginning of a New Alien Green Revolution?
Sadly, not. On April 1978 the harvest came in. The conventional agronomists had a productivity more than twenty times higher than the alien followers. The Secretary immediately lost interest on their secret formula.
It did produce a few giant vegetables, nevertheless, but they were almost all water inside. This is the thing: though they had produced 45Kg giant cauliflowers, they had the same nutritional value as a normal cauliflower. And with a fraction of the productivity per terrain of the conventional techniques. Eating those giant vegetables would not do much better to satiate anyone, but as Mexican researcher Luis Ruiz Noguez pointed, it would not make anyone thirsty at least.
And what about the secret formula for giant watery vegetables? It turns out it’s no secret at all. Giant pumpkins are an American tradition, and other vegetables can also be enlarged without much difficulty. It doesn’t have anything to do with astrology, not even with space irradiated seeds, but simply with special care the cultivation process. The vegetables are still not particularly useful to feed people, unfortunately.
The Chinese Giant Space Vegetables may perhaps have a “10% to 20%” added productivity, perhaps, but we would have to see a published scientific paper, or better yet, a commercial product, to trust that. Meanwhile, Arredondo also discovered that his closet mirror had a Jesus face. And that the aliens were in fact coming from the Hollow Earth.
Check more (in Spanish) on Luis Ruiz Noguez detailed article on this case: El “Enigma” de las Verduras Gigantes (with many priceless photos)
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