I honestly didn’t think the humble tomato would warrant enough information to write a book on, but I stand corrected. I’m an unabashed National Public Radio junkie and found this article via NPR’s Twitter feed about a new book titled “Tomatoland.” Did you know that in the last 50 years the nutritional content of the supermarket tomato has decreased? I didn’t either. According to Barry Estabrook, the author of the book, the tomatoes in the stores now have 30 to 40 percent less vitamin C than in the 1960s. He argues that tomatoes are grown now for their shelf life and weight rather than taste, especially since consumers expect the fruits in the stores year-round. He cites interviews from large-scale farmers to back up his claims.
I always hated the taste of supermarket tomatoes, but couldn’t put my finger on why. It’s nice to know that I’m not crazy and imagining things. If you’ve never tasted a tomato that you didn’t buy from a grocer, get thyself to the nearest farmer’s market or find a friend with a garden. You’ll notice a huge difference in taste. Or plant a few of your own plants next year. Tomatoes are really, really easy to grow and can even grow in pots. I planted Rutgers and Romas this year in our garden. It’s a cheap veggie to plant (only 37 cents a plant from our local greenhouse) and will one plant will probably give you more tomatoes that you can possibly stand.
The Ohio Farm Bureau has a database of farmer’s markets in the state here, if you’re interested. Just click on the county where you live.
(And for the record, being a fan of NPR does not make one a flaming liberal. There. I got that off my chest.)