Thursday, July 14
The Tomato’s Fall From Grace
Second only to lettuce in produce popularity – the tomato is one of our most alluring fruits. Not to mention one of the most profitable. In 2009, Americans spent $5 billion on commercially grown fresh tomatoes. But of all the fruits and vegetables we eat, none suffers at the hand of factory farming more than a tomato grown in the winter fields of Florida. And if you bite into a tomato between the months of October and June, chances are it hails from the Sunshine state, which accounts for one-third of the fresh tomatoes grown in the United States. Modern agribusiness can’t deliver a decent-tasting tomato in large part because it’s essentially against the law; regulations set by the Florida Tomato Committee determine what a tomato should look like, and the older, tasty varieties don’t conform to the rules of color and shape. In his new book Tomatoland, based on his James Beard Award-winning article, investigative food journalist Barry Estabrook reveals how industrial agriculture has ruined the tomato in all ways–gastronomic, environmental, and in terms of labor abuse.