What Tomatoland taught me

Just finished reading Tomatoland by Barry Estabrook.  Mr Estabrook loves tomatoes (as do I).  Then he saw fresh tomatoes fly off a produce truck at 60mph and not be damaged.  That seemed odd. He decided to investigate tomato farming. What he found was startling.

From rampant slavery-like working conditions to pesticide induced birth defects, Mr Estabrook’s revelation of the tomato farming industry in Florida is a perfect description of how industrial farming has not only damaged our environment, but also hurt our palates.

It’s hard to find a good tomato these days, says Mr Estabrook.  And he’s right.  Industrial farming turns out bland, tasteless (but pretty looking) tomatoes.  Possibly because they’re not meant to grown in Florida’s sandy soil.

My wife and I grow our own, and man when they come in we eat tomatoes in everything.  (If we can keep the birds from penetrating our tomato defenses)  It’s truly a once a year treat.

So here’s what Tomatoland taught me…

We’re spoiled.  We want seasonal fruits and vegetables year round.  Forget that the very laws of nature are against it.  We want it.  And we want it cheap.

Throughout human history we ate what the earth provided.  Now we eat what industrial farming provides.  I think we’re missing out.   I think, when it comes to food, absence can make the heart grow fonder.  And, to me, there’s something about knowing what time of year it is by what’s on your plate.

Mind you, I’m being a hypocrite.  I eat tomatoes year round.  Eat lots of things year round.  But I guess the romantic in me would like a time when we were more connected to our food.  More connected to where it came from and appreciation for what the earth provides.  And when it provides it.

Ultimately, being more aware of where my food comes from will help me make healthier decisions.  For myself and my planet.



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