From Juicy to Industry, Tomatoland by Barry Estabrook Tells It All

The subtitle of Tomatoland by Barry Estabrook (Andrews McMeel, June 2011) is How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit..

It made me reminisce on picnics with bread, cheese, fresh juicy tomatoes, boiled eggs, simple pleasures.

You would enjoy tomatoes as you would ripe peaches or apricots.

Where did the taste go?


In the U.S one third of tomato production (a $ 5 Billion industry) comes from Florida.

The author lays out the process from 'field' (lab?) to supermarket shelves:

"Supermarket produce sections bulging with a year-round supply of perfectly round, bright red-orange tomatoes have become all but a national birthright. But in Tomatoland, which is based on his James Beard Award-winning article, "The Price of Tomatoes," investigative food journalist Barry Estabrook reveals the huge human and environmental cost of the $5 billion fresh tomato industry. Fields are sprayed with more than one hundred different herbicides and pesticides. Tomatoes are picked hard and green and artificially gassed until their skins acquire a marketable hue. Modern plant breeding has tripled yields, but has also produced fruits with dramatically reduced amounts of calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin C, and tomatoes that have fourteen times more sodium than the tomatoes our parents enjoyed. The relentless drive for low costs has fostered a thriving modern-day slave trade in the United States. How have we come to this point?"

After reading Tomatoland, none of us will look at a tomato the same way.

Time to stick to the nearest farmers market as our tomato source from now on?

You can find more of Barry's prose on Politics of the Plate...

In Tomatoland for Green Day # 182

Previously: Butterflies, Scents of Flowers, Lobetia Organic Viognier from Spain

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