If you frequent the farm, I am sure that you have noticed by now, that we are tomato people. With tomato season approaching, we would just like to share with you, how much we really care for this odd fruit and how many of your grocery store tomatoes are a lackluster bunch.
According to Kurt Michael Friese's newest article in the huffingtonpost, the modern tomato is flawed. The article is focused around the two-time James Beard Award- wining journalist Barry Estabrook's newest book, Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed our Most Alluring Fruit. "Estabrook tells us why the modern factory-farmed tomato in most grocery stores is a poster child for nearly everything that is wrong with industrial agriculture. A recent USDA study, he points out, says that the average tomato of today, the kind on your Whopper or Taco Bell taco, has "30 percent less vitamin C, 30 percent less thiamin 19 percent less niacin, and 62 percent less calcium than it did in the 1960s. But that modern tomato does shame its 1960s counterpart in one respect: It contains 14 times as much sodium."?This is because the tomatoes grown in the fields in and around Immokalee, Florida, where nearly one third of the tomatoes consumed in the U.S. are grown, are bred for one thing and one thing only. And it's not flavor, and it's not nutrition. It's shipability, period. To qualify as grade A in that department, it needs to be a specific size, and a specific shape, and it needs to be picked while still green and rock hard. In fact, Estabrook relays a story of nearly losing control of his car as it was pelted with the tough green orbs bouncing off the back of a tractor-trailer on a Florida highway. The fruits hit the pavement at 60 mph and rolled to the gravel shoulder unscathed.That truck was likely headed to one of the many enormous warehouses in the area, which "force-ripen" the fruit by smothering them with ethylene gas. This process does make them red, but it does not truly ripen them. Thus the sugars are nowhere near as developed as the ones in your back yard will be and the result is the mealy pink baseballs in your grocer's produce section right now.
Our enormous appetite for having pretty much any food available to us at anytime of year has led to a system where yes, you can have a tomato in February, but the cost is a lot more than the $1.25/lb you're likely to pay at your local Wal-Mart. It comes at the cost of enormous environmental damage and shocking worker abuse. It utilizes thousands of migrant workers, some of whom are undocumented, and many of whom live and work in literal slave conditions. And since the muggy lowlands of Florida are not native habitat, a tomato plant there can fall victim to as many as 27 separate insect species and 29 different diseases, necessitating a plethora of chemicals that are as hard on the workers and the land as they are on the pests. Then there's the 31 different fungicides in use. The list goes on."
Now here is the not so scary part about our beloved fruit. At The Farm at Broad Run we have fresh, locally grown tomatoes that are grown from our love of tomatoes, and how great they taste, and how fresh they are, not how great they can be shipped. We also have tomatoes that you can grow yourself. So that they are the freshest and most nutrient filled that they can be. After reading this article you shouldn't be scared of tomatoes, you should just know your grower. And The Farm at Broad Run is an organic, locally grown, pesticide FREE!
Come check out some of the best heirlooms in Northern Virginia!
Right now you can buy 1 gallon Tomatoes for only $5 - these are not only affordable, but the freshest and healthiest tomatoes out there!