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Bright and Brief

November 2, 1989

CRESCENT CITY, Ill. (AP) _ If 70 roaming buffaloes don’t get people’s attention, farmer ″Duke″ Hasselbring hopes his bumper sticker will: ″WARNING: Buffalo meat may improve your sex life.″

It also may not, he chuckles, but in this business it pays to be flamboyant.

It also helps to be real fast on your feet, said Hasselbring, one of the nation’s estimated 300 commercial buffalo producers.

Unlike cattle, Hasselbring said buffalo are dumb, high-strung, have no respect for people, charge without provocation, and can run 35 mph.

″We three do a lot of roadwork, so we can do 36 (mph) and stay one step ahead of them,″ said Hasselbring. ″They paw the ground and that doesn’t mean anything, but when they raise that tail, you’ve got about five seconds to clear out.″

Hasselbring brings school children to his farm to educate them about buffaloes, sends buffalo steaks to members of the Chicago Bears football team, and plans to provide buffalo samples at a food fair to attract restaurant owners.

Kim Dowling, editor of the National Buffalo Association’s magazine, called buffalo meat ″America’s original health food″ because it is low in fat and high in protein.

Hasselbring, a cattleman and award-winning corn grower, got into the buffalo business after his son, Kenton, wrote a paper about it for a college entrepreneurship class. Kenton and brother Robin now work with their father on the 1,800-acre farm in east-central Illinois.


GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) - In what promises to herald a new era for hors d’oeuvres, researchers have developed tomatoes that are half the size of cherry tomatoes.

No more cutting them up and getting squirted with the seeds - you just sprinkle them on your salad like croutons.

The University of Florida reported Wednesday that two Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers developed tomato plants that stand 5 to 8 inches tall and produce the itty-bitty ″Micro-Tom″ tomatoes.

″There’s nothing like it,″ said Dr. Jay Scott, who spent seven years developing the tomato with Dr. Brent Harbaugh. ″It establishes a whole new category for small tomato varieties. We call it a miniature dwarf tomato.″

An average tomato plant is 20 times larger than Micro-Tom, which was bred for convenience and as an ornamental for window sill pots, hanging baskets and in garden borders. Micro-Tom is about one-quarter the size of the next smallest varieties, said Scott.

Micro-Tom’s tiny tomatoes also taste good, according to 75 people who sampled the fruit in informal taste tests, Scott said. But Scott and Harbaugh note that seeds for Micro-Tom are not yet available and probably won’t be released to the public until sometime next year.

″Micro-Tom is so intriguing because all the parts of the tomato plant have been genetically reduced in size,″ Scott said. Other dwarf tomato plants are short, but their leaves are still comparatively large relative to the rest of the plant, said Scott.

Scott and Harbaugh cross-bred a dwarf Florida tomato variety, called Florida Basket, with an Ohio breed that had small leaves and fruit to develop the pedigree for Micro-Tom.

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