Fruit Love Letters

By Whetstone Radio Collective

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Category: Food

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Fruit Love Letters is a curious dive into the Anthropocene through fruit-colored glasses. Host Jessamine Starr may not be a botanist, historian, farmer or an expert on fruit, but as a chef in Atlanta she's simply had a lifetime love affair with it. So, she began penning love letters to fruit. This podcast pairs those letters with her desires to learn more. From the miraculous survival adventure of the avocado, to the nurturing personality of a fig, we’ll traverse the world of fruit through emotional meanderings and expanding a hunger for more information. Through discussions with farmers, scientists, chefs and enthusiasts, Fruit Love Letters proves that there is so much we didn’t know about fruit, from the blueberries you sprinkle on your cereal or that seemingly mundane apple snack, both in historical fact and mystique.

Episode Date
The Native Fruit Worth Remembering

“A perfume so intense it confuses the senses.”

One of North America’s least-known native fruits, the pawpaw deserves a stage of its own. Jessamine chats with historian, writer and citizen of the Choctaw Nation, Devon Mihesuah. Having grown up eating pawpaws, Devon wants pawpaw fruits to be available to Indigenous communities for years to come. To explore a pathway to pawpaw preservation through cultivation, Jessamine speaks with Neal Peterson, a plant geneticist who has spent the last 45 years creating pawpaws for the future.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Min 1:00: Jessamine recites her letter to pawpaws
  • Min: 2:50: Jessamine gives a brief introduction to pawpaw
  • Min 3:40: Meet Devon Mihesuah
  • Min 4:40: Devon recounts her pawpaw past and present
  • Min 6:40: Favorite ways to eat pawpaws
  • Min 7:45: Role of pawpaws in Choctaw diet
  • Min 9:15: Cultural knowledge regarding pawpaws
  • Min 11:40: Foraging wild pawpaw challenges
  • Min 13:30: Tribes revitalizing pawpaws and indigenous food sovereignty  
  • Min 15:00: Devon describes growing her own pawpaw plants
  • Min 17:00: Meet Neal Peterson
  • Min 18:00: Neal recounts his first taste of pawpaw
  • Min 19:30: Neal describes his research findings and method of past pawpaw breeding
  • Min 21:30: Neal finds surviving pawpaw trees to begin his cultivation process
  • Min 24:00: Neal explains the metrics evaluated to obtain his successful cultivars
  • Min 27:00: Neal praises the rise of pawpaw excitement and compares its future to be similar to blueberries

Learn more about this episode of Fruit Love Letters at, on IG at @whetstoneradio, Twitter at @whetstone_radio, and YouTube at /WhetstoneRadio.

Guests: Devon Mihesuah, Neal Peterson

Jan 18, 2022
The Fruit the World Can't Help But Love

“Strand me on an island with one food, I always choose you.”

This is an impassioned ode to the mango. Host Jessamine Starr talks to mango expert Dr. Noris Ledesma, who fell in love with mangoes as a child in Colombia and has since spent much of her career studying this fruit. While both Jessamine and Noris share a great love for the mango, Noris has made it her life’s mission to ensure that it continues to thrive and make it to our kitchen tables. She has traveled around the world collecting mango species in an attempt to cultivate mangoes that can withstand everything from climate change and farmers’ needs to the picky consumer's eye.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Min 1:00: Jessamine recites her letter to mangoes
  • Min 3:30: Meet Noris Ledesma
  • Min 5:40: Why mangoes are so special to communities in Florida
  • Min 8:50: Mango import process to the US
  • Min 9:30: Growing mangoes in the US
  • Min 12:00: Environmental and growing climate concerns and solutions for mango farmers
  • Min 16:00: Purple skin mangoes to prevent food loss due to slight imperfections
  • Min 18:00: Ways to eat mangoes from different regions
  • Min 20:30: Limitations of mango varieties in the US
  • Min 22:00: Mild allergic reactions to mangoes
  • Min 24:00: Mango connections around the world

Learn more about this episode of Fruit Love Letters at, on IG at @whetstoneradio, Twitter at @whetstone_radio, and YouTube at /WhetstoneRadio.

Guest: Dr. Noris Ledesma (@norisledesma)

Jan 11, 2022
Trailer - Fruit Love Letters

Curious about what’s to come in WRC’s new podcast, Fruit Love Letters? Listen to host Jessamine Starr (@jessasminestarr) tell you all about it in this trailer!

Mark your calendars for the launch of #FruitLoveLetters on Tuesday, January 11!

Jan 06, 2022