The fruits of enlightenment

I’m worn out from the Robert Wright contretemps, so here’s some fun.  A Chinese farmer has created molds that, when placed around growing pears, turn them into baby Buddhas.

Plucky farmer Gao Xianzhang has created 10,000 of the mini marvels this season and he plans to take the fruits of his labour to the UK and Europe.

Britain could soon see the arrival of the pears, which are shaped like mini buddhas.

If the idea catches on, sales of the mini pears could hit the profits of British farmers who are already struggling to fend off sales of cheaper foreign produce in recession-hit Britain.

‘People seem to think they are cute or lucky and will buy them as soon as they’re off the tree,’ Gao explained.

Gao spent six years perfecting the intricate baby-shaped pears, carefully crafting each one which grows inside an individual mould.

Despite their hefty cost of £5 each, locals in his home village of Hexia, in Hebia, northern China, have reportedly been snapping them up.

An alert reader has suggested that, by uniting the scientific and the spiritual, Gao Xianzhang should be nominated for the Templeton Prize.  The creation of Buddha-shaped pears certainly fulfills the Prize’s aim of honoring “a living person who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery or practical works.”

The deadline for this year’s nominations is October 1.

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The French, who apparenty lack all spirituality in favor of carnality, can do only this:

pearbottleFPear brandy6c1fc2d_o



h/t: Otter

15 Comments

  1. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted September 19, 2009 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    Art gone pear-shaped.

  2. hempenstein
    Posted September 19, 2009 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    I remember reading somewhere years ago that some Japanese pear growers put boxes around the fruit to get square pears for better packing.

    So the Origin of Buddha would seem to be a box.

    • Catnip
      Posted September 20, 2009 at 8:09 am | Permalink

      Hi Hemp

      I think it was watermelons. But they’ve been plenty of attempts at tomatoes too, which is my area of interest. Forget the packing, think sandwiches!

      • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
        Posted September 20, 2009 at 9:36 am | Permalink

        That was my reaction too, albeit perhaps for different reasons.

        When I heard of cooked artificial eggs molded on cylinders, the rationale was efficiency in cutting (less time and waste). IIRC they went for round crossections to connect with tradition, i.e. it should look like an ordinary egg.

        But there are no reasons why you couldn’t go for a square cylinder, to have the best of both worlds.

      • Hempenstein
        Posted September 20, 2009 at 10:27 am | Permalink

        Hi Catnip,
        Thanx, perhaps it was watermelons – it was a long time ago.

        Are you familiar with the story about developing the big cucumbers for the pickle slices of bread-slice dimensions? I think it was Vlasic and I think they were called Snackers. I recall it was based on just seven seeds from another project that might have been thrown out except that someone suddenly realized that if bias-cut they could make a single pickle slab for a hamburger.

      • Catnip
        Posted September 20, 2009 at 10:58 am | Permalink

        Dear Hemp

        Not sure how to reply to a reply, but here’s hoping you see this. I was sure that you’d been conspiring to have a laugh – this sounded suspiciously like a Coyne ruse. Single-slice-dill-pickles-designed-for-hamburgers…sheeesh! And then I found this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vlasic_Pickles.

        Anyway, while the world goes mad with warped priorities, and before I help myself to a stiff drink, allow me to wish you Shana Tova and Eid Mubarrak.

      • Hempenstein
        Posted September 20, 2009 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

        Who’d have ever predicted we’d have a pickle discussion on this site? At least, given that pickles are one of the things you put on hot dogs in
        Chicago, I don’t think we’ll be invited off the list as a result. :-)

        Neither of the following have anything about the seven seeds business that I recalled, but expand on the product and the buzz at the time:

        http://www.rawbw.com/~zero/news/v1/news145.html

        http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=105&STORY=/www/story/04-13-1999/0000907924

        http://internettrash.com/news/getarticle.shtml?/news/1999/04/12/item2.html

        And NC State’s list of cucumber variants:
        http://cuke.hort.ncsu.edu/cucurbit/wehner/vegcult/cucumbersz.html

  3. Michael K Gray
    Posted September 19, 2009 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    How long would it take for a breeder to artificially select for such a shape through cross-breeding alone?

    And the same question, but with a little genetic engineering?

    • whyevolutionistrue
      Posted September 19, 2009 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

      If you are serious, I doubt that it could be done either way, at least not with the tools we have today.

      Much better just to put the pears in Buddha molds.

      • Michael K Gray
        Posted September 19, 2009 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

        I was, and am, completely serious.
        I really do wonder what relative time scales it might take to potentially achieve such a *directed* goal through three potential intentionally directed paths:
        1) ‘Conventional’ artificial selection via horticulture.
        2) Genetic engineering combined with horticulture.
        3) Deistic creation(!)

        Given that with option 2) involves predicting future technologies, and given that ‘we’† are notoriously bad at guessing paradigm shifts, I am wiling to wager AU$10.00 that in 500 years, a pimply ten-ton-teen will be able conjure-up the requisite genome for a Buddha-Pear tree in his mother’s basement, and have it give birth to a Partridge seed to-boot!

        Bet on?
        Not enough? OK, I shall raise it to AU$100.00

        I can’t wait until 2509 to collect!
        (Perhaps I should put the stake in escrow in an interest-bearing‡ account?)

        Post Scriptum:
        I do not offer favourable odds on 3) manifesting as true.
        Something like a Googolplex cubed to one.
        Winning that wager would put the Templeton Prize in the gurgler where it belongs!

        MKG

        ____________
        † A. C. Clarke excluded, of course.
        (Sylvia Browne need not apply for consideration)

        ‡ Latin: Fully Sic.

      • Hempenstein
        Posted September 20, 2009 at 10:16 am | Permalink

        MKG – 1) won’t work and I doubt 2) will either. Pome cultivars are all grafts, i.e. we (sadly!) can’t get a Winesap apple tree from planting seeds from a Winesap apple, and the same goes for pears. While there is some amount of character-of-shape in both – maybe the best example is the ring of bumps at the base of a red apple that means two things: Red [anything but] Delicious and avoid at all cost.

        But even with that I don’t think there’s any chance (and this now goes against hope for 2)) since I can’t think of much that suggests any inclination toward strict bilateral symmetry in the fruits (that could be capitalized on toward your intended goals). Thus, I wouldn’t expect you’d have any success even if you could search an infinite number of seed-grown pear trees.

        Also, from watching maturation of the pears from my own trees – they get noticeably larger at the end – I can make an educated guess. I suspect that much of what goes on at the ripening stage is hydrolysis of some carbohydrate polymer to yield a greater molar amount of carbohydrate units (sweet disaccharides etc), which has the effect of increasing osmotic flow into the fruit, causing them to swell. Thus, the shape is less directed by genetically-directed development than it is by hydrostatic pressure. At least, I imagine that those pears turn into little Buddhas in the last couple weeks.

        Catnip – any input welcome!

      • Catnip
        Posted September 20, 2009 at 11:20 am | Permalink

        Well Hemp, assuming you are right (I don’t doubt it), and have pear trees as I do…if we move quickly enough, we could both go forth and multiply, bringing many bodhisattvas to this world.

        What say you? (And got a Buddha mold anyone?)

      • Michael K Gray
        Posted September 20, 2009 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

        Hempenstein, I humbly thank thee for a scholarly reply!
        I shall abandon the wager forthwith.

  4. NewEnglandBob
    Posted September 19, 2009 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

    In humans we are told the pear shape is healthier than the Buddha (large belly) shape. Wouldn’t that make the fruit prone to heart attacks?

    This is a cute idea. Restrict the growth of a fruit and make it smaller and charge more!

  5. Flea
    Posted September 20, 2009 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    Somebody please, please, send one of these little praying dudes (do not say they are buddhas!) to Ray “Bananaman” Comfort and hope he does a video…


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