Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Tomato, To-MAH-to!

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

Soon, it will be time to plant our garden. It's a small plot, but has served us well over the past few years. We've harvested different things - peas, cucumbers, beans, carrots, peppers...and always tomatoes. We usually put in two plants: one for grape tomatoes, one for regular tomatoes. My mouth waters just thinking about them. The grape tomatoes are perfect for plucking off the vine and popping them right into your mouth, and I love that our children are learning the pleasure of this, too.
Our second annual garden, circa 2010.

Store-bought tomatoes just don't compare. They've got no color or flavor, and the texture just isn't what it should be. Eating tomatoes with a mealy texture is so disappointing. Once we run out of our own crop, and we must return to store-bought tomatoes, I am reminded of just how good a home-grown tomato can be.

Our freshly planted garden in 2011, with a new fence
(when S-Man was going through an anti-pants-diaper-only phase).

According to an article in this month's Scientific American, scientists are trying to put the flavor back into supermarket tomatoes. You see, since the 70's, tomatoes have been modified to grow more yield per plant, and to have more water content so they ship better and last longer on the shelf. All this for the customer - who incidentally is the grower, not the consumer. Viola! Mealy tomatoes.

I get it - it's economics. Supply and demand. But many of us are trying to feed our families healthy food. To realize that some of what's available in the store doesn't taste as good because it's been made to be "shippable" and that the result is actually a fruit with less nutrition in it is disconcerting. Also, as someone who is not only trying to do the best thing for her family, but who has a digestive disease that was triggered by some unknown environmental factor - all of this crop modification frustrates me.

So, we grow our own tomatoes. Not only are they are delicious, but growing a garden is a good lesson for our boys, and good for the environment.

You can have an impact, too. Grow your own, purchase from Farmer's Market, and buy local!

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