Photo: Hal Cohen

Upon meeting David Karp, fruit detective, his mild-mannered appearance initially brings to mind the image of an accountant, not a private eye; then he reveals the weapon he's been concealing. Fortunately, the fruit knife that ubiquitously occupies his holster is there to provide a readily available means to carve up fruit, not innocent streetwalkers.

As Karp starts to slice up a few recently purchased seckles, he laments how the pears' dwarfish appearance has hindered their popularity. "Too bad they're not a little larger, or they'd be more of a specialty item," Karp says. "They really are the finest of the pears."

For more than a decade, Karp has been a fruit journalist, covering the fruit beat in California for various national magazines and newspapers. He has become a champion for exotic fruit and a familiar figure at farmer's markets. He has forged a unique niche out...

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