Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Tomatoes in February

This photo captured my attention last week when looking for something else in my photo files.

late season tomato harvest 2017 on Crandall Hill
I'm not sure how many tomato varieties are represented but I can quickly identify Green Zebra, Yellow Pear, Sweetie Cherry, Cherokee Chocolate, Black Cherry, Roma Paste, Amish Paste, Black Sea Man and Stupice. I can almost smell the particular tomato scent, almost taste the sweet, complex, deep flavors, almost feel the splash of sun-warmed juice on my chin.

But, it's February, and it's cold, and it's snowy and these tomatoes are but a colorful memory.

Author Barry Estrabrook writes:

"I think wanting a tomato in the dead of winter - or wanting a little bit of orange on the plate ...is inherent in a lot of our shopping decisions. We expect an ingredient to be on the supermarket shelves 365 days a year, whether or whether not it's in season or tastes any good. It's the price we pay for insisting we have food out of season and not local." 

supermarket tomatoes
"We all know what industrial tomatoes taste like (or don't)
but they have only a fraction of the vitamins that the tomatoes
my mother fed to me in the 1960s did" - Barry Estabrook
"Tomatoes are bred to be perfectly formed so they can make their way across the United States and onto your dinner table without cracking or breaking," writes Estabrook in his best-selling book, "Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit."

"Corporate agriculture does one thing, and only one thing, extremely well. It puts incredibly cheap food on our tables. But that cheapness comes at an incredible cost to the environment, to workers, to rural communities, and to food quality - in terms of both nutrition and taste...
We foodies and people in the sustainable food movement chant these mantras, 'local, seasonal, organic, fair-trade, sustainable,' and they almost become meaningless because they're said so often and you see them in so many places. If you strip all those away, they do mean something, and what they mean is that you end up with something like a Florida tomato in the winter — which is tasteless."

In this interview, Estabrook, elaborates on changes since "Tomatoland" was published in 2011.


Steven J said...

But it does seem to me that by whatever means these different varieties are now making their way down the supply chain. In the food business, there is a lot of change.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading Barry Estabrook's essays in the Gourmet magazine. We can't even get decent tomatoes here in Florida, where so many are grown. Looking forward to stopping by your farm stand next summer for a REAL tomato.

Cynthia said...

What a gorgeous photo. Your tomatoes are the best!

Anonymous said...

When all of the vegetables displayed look identical, they were most likely manufactured and not grown. Diversity is part of natures way. We did a Tomato Tuesday post to join in the charge.