My annual tomato rant
Each year I go on a rant. Or maybe I get on my soapbox.
I’m not really sure which- you choose.
Either way, I get hot under the collar about the issue of commercially farmed tomatoes. While most of the food world gets all worked up about commercially farmed meats, CAFOs and animal rights- we sometimes forget about the most basic human rights that we as American’s are so adamant about and stop applying those concepts to our food. We are so liberal in exercising our rights to purchase hormone free, cage free, pesticide free, no soy or GMO products and we really should be equally as liberal in exercising our right to purchase foods that are cruelty free and slavery free.
Each year Americans consume tomatoes, purchased bright red and slightly firm, albeit mealy, year-round from their grocery stores. And each year, those tomatoes are picked still green from the fields by the hands of modern slaves in Florida, New Mexico, Arizona and parts of Texas to be shipped thousands of miles for you to purchase. The slaves that work in the fields are often underfed, receive little pay (paid by the pound picked) working long hours without breaks and then return “home” to a box truck which they share with many others and without working facilities, kitchens or electricity.
Does that mealy tomato still look appetizing? I hope not.
So while most of us will be adding “fresh” sliced tomatoes to the local and fresh greens that are in abundance right now, keep in mind the hands that picked and processed them.
Do those hands a favor and don’t purchase tomatoes that a) aren’t in season and b) aren’t from local farms who provide fair working conditions and wages for workers.
But that means you can’t eat a fresh tomato until like, July! Yes- true. But if you want to eat local and tout your support of small farms and sustainable practices then that’s part of the sacrifice. And rest assured, when tomato season arrives here in the northwest- you can bet that I will be right beside you gorging myself on fresh tomatoes since I haven’t had one since late summer last year.
FYI- When tomato season arrives, you can be sure I will have lots of sources to direct you to for farm-direct tomatoes. Bubba and I will also be putting in the ground this week over 200 tomato plants of over 10 varieties in hopes that we will have more than enough for our CSA members and community to share.