|The Good Tomatoes - suitable for market.|
I had one of those today.
|My edible wares.|
We mourn the monotony of produce and say that it doesn't need to so uniform, so perfect, so alien. We could stand some imperfection if it meant that the goods didn't have to come all the way from Mexico, Chile or Guam. We could stand a little flavor. It's like dating the most handsome guy in town and discovering he lacks personality.
Well, I think we may be in denial about our own aesthetic behavior, just a wee bit. I realized this when I was getting ready to head to the weekly Farmer's Market at the nearby town of Cavalier (Pop: 1,302) and loading up my garden goods.
|Moon & Stars Watermelons|
Spinach leaves? Check. (5¢ each!)
Basil? Lemon basil? Check and check. (25¢ each!)
Moon & Stars watermelons? Check. ($3 per half!)
Giant pumpkin, plus decorator pumpkins? Um, check.
Now, for the tomatoes...
With somewhere in the neighborhood of 20-30 tomato plants, I have quite a few with end rot, bug squatters or some that were just plain ugly. So, I began sorting out the less attractive ones and favoring the beautifully perfect red ones that could have starred in their own Prego ad.
|Beauties on the left, Uglies on the right.|
Seems like a simple thing but the consumer preference is for physical perfection and the industry delivers exactly that - for your eyes ONLY.
"For the last 50 or more years, tomato breeders have concentrated essentially on one thing and that is yield — they want plants that yield as many or as much as possible. They also want those fruits to be able to stand up to being harvested, packed, artificially turned orange [with ethylene gas] and then shipped away and still be holding together in the supermarket a week or 10 days later.
"As one large Florida farmer said, 'I don't get paid a single cent for flavor.' He said, 'I get paid for weight. And I don't know of any supermarket shopper who tastes her tomatoes before she puts them in her shopping cart.' ... It's not worth commercial plant breeders' while to breed for taste because their customers — the large farmers — don't get paid for it."
--Barry Estabrook, author of Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit
I'm grateful for the small food/Ag lessons that I keep learning day after day, week after week, month after month, here at SCRANCH. Being on the other side of the market counter sure does broaden the picture. I'm getting all kinds of insight here; that fancy book learnin' can only take you so far, y'know?
|"I am NOT an eggplant..."|