The Allure, Diversity, and Shady Past of Tomatoes
It’s a food riddle!
The Tomato’s Shady Past
Which beloved vegetable is actually a fruit and up until 200 years ago was known by its nickname the poison apple?
It’s the tomato!
This fruit, defined so by botanical standards, masquerades in our meals as a vegetable in salads, sliced atop a hamburger, and as a beautiful sauce over noodles.
Previously this lovely fruit and member of the nightshade plant family was considered poisonous and grown only as an ornamental.
Somehow by the late 1880s the tomato had shaken off its shady reputation and has today become one of America’s most beloved vegetables, I mean fruit.
Affection for the Tomato is Unequalled In the Plant Kingdom
There is an irresistible allure and depth of affection for the tomato that is unequalled in the plant kingdom.
Now mind you these sentiments are directed towards a garden-fresh tomato that has been plucked from someone’s backyard or purchased from a farmer whose loving hands tended it.
Not shipped trucked or flown from parts of the globe or even California or Florida where up to 3/4 of domestic tomatoes are grown.
There are reasons why you may have experienced a store-bought tomato that has the taste and texture of cardboard.
Commercial growers produce only a handful of tomato types, chose more for their hardiness to withstand commercial packing and transport, not their beauty or taste.
To survive their long commute, they are picked green and gassed during their long journey to ripen.
Sounds as appetizing as eating cardboard.
The Diversity of Heirloom Tomatoes
But there are more than 10,000 varieties of tomatoes in the world.
There seems to be no end to the size and color of the non-commercial varieties with names that reflect that diversity: black cherry, chocolate stripes, amana orange, black krim, and sunset’s red horizon.
And that’s only a handful.
We are now in the midst of tomato harvest season.
To enjoy the best, seek out a farmer or a friend whose willing to share from their garden.
Perhaps next year, you’ll be motivated to grow your own!