Shopping for Tomatoes
What do you look for when you shop for fruit and vegetables? Do you buy according to price, smell, feel, texture, freshness, or aesthetics? Since your choice is probably based on any or all of the above, let’s consider the following about picking out tomatoes.
Take a look at the average tomato on the shelf of your local grocer. Now go try to find a tomato that looks like that growing naturally in the wild. Barbara Kingsolver, in her book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, argues that tomatoes raised by agribusiness have other priorities in mind. The tomatoes big business grows are designed to ripen simultaneously and at the same size, for ease of machine harvesting. Trying to get tomatoes which are grown in your own backyard to do this would be like telling a class of students to all go through puberty at the exact same time, while they grow at the exact same pace. It’s just not natural.
Store bought tomatoes are often bred to have a tough skin to survive rough handling and a long transport (naturally taking away from the taste). They are engineered to withstand chemical fertilizers and pesticides. They are almost always picked early to allow time for transport. And the weirdest part; conventional tomatoes are designed to be roughly square-shaped to fit more tomatoes in the shipping crate. Does the taste and wholesomeness of food even rank anymore on the list of agribusiness’s priorities?
Here is a challenge to you. Go out and buy an heirloom tomato from a local farmers market. Then go buy the squarest tomato you can find on the shelf at the supermarket. Compare the taste, and I’ll bet you never eat a conventional tomato again.
- Why Supermarket Tomatoes Tend to Taste Bland (libertycrier.com)
- There’s nothing like a good tomato (mnn.com)
- How the Taste Of Tomatoes Went Bad (And Kept On Going) – NPR (blog) (npr.org)