The tomatoes of summer are among us: the deep pink Brandywines and green shouldered Black Krims, the sunny orange Valencias and norm-defying Green Zebras! We stroll through farmers markets with an abundance of choice for flavor, size, sauce-ability. We savor each bite, nothing more than a little salt needed.
But come winter? The heirlooms we cherish are absent from our favorite farmer’s stall and we must ask ourselves: Do I dare try a supermarket tomato?
Barry Estabrook’s Tomatoland could help you decide but it may mean going tomatoless through the darker months.
Estabrook delves into the the history of the multi-billion dollar, year-round tomato industry and explores the decline in taste of the ancient fruit as well as the increase in human trafficking to work in pesticide drenched fields. From green tomatoes bouncing off the asphalt (and frighteningly surviving) in front of him, to the brave work of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, to the optimistic future of better tasting supermarket tomatoes, Estabrook paints a picture of the industry through personal experience and in-depth interviews with those at the heart of the issues.
So savor those heirlooms while you can because once you know the true price of a Florida winter tomato, you’ll most likely pass on the Caprese salad come January. That is until we win the battle for better tasting, more humanely grown and harvested, not so perfect blushing fruits. It’s worth the fight!