What did this mean? In lay terms, it meant that the gradual decoding of various strands of shape-determinant DNA could not only five us seemingly faultless oranges and peaches but also transform our notions of what fruits and vegetables were “supposed” to look like. Packing giants like Dole and Del Monte would surely relish the prospect of square grapefruits and rectangular cherry tomatoes, all the better suited for sitting on conveyor belts and fitting into shipping boxes. And the genetic key to cylindrical, slice-ready tomatoes would no doubt interest the owners of hamburger joints everywhere. The manipulation of shape-controlling DNA would have no effect on flavor—which has itself been the object of seemingly endless experimentation—but I could easily envisage how customer-shaped designer produce, if marketed with enough sophistication, might seduce many supermarket shopper away from the real thing. How close, I wondered, had this new scientific discipline come to making such fantasies of idealized food real? And could this advance definitively spell an end to bumpy, blotched, lopsided—and, ultimately, unique-looking—fruits and vegetables? Esther van der Knaap, a 42-year-old assistant professor of horticulture and crop science at Ohio State University, is one of the leading innovators in the emerging science of fruit morphology, as her specialized field has come to be called (notwithstanding that vegetables are also the subject of her research). She and a team of seven assistants conduct their work in a group of low-slung brick buildings and greenhouses at a horticulture and crop science research development center in Wooster, Ohio.