Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Virtues of Tomatoes

I have been on a tomato love fest these last couple of months fueled by my desire to eat locally. I understand that anything that is grown with care, attention and close to its source can't be anything but delicious.
My recent tomato journey began with reading an article in Gourmet Magazine, 
 (Politics of the Plate), The Price of Tomatoes, March 2009, where the author Barry Estabrook describes the conditions for thousands of migrant workers who work our fields harvesting our vegetables and fruit crops. This particular article focused on tomatoes grown in Immokalee, Florida, which produces 90% of our nation's tomatoes during the months from December to May. The condition in which these migrant workers live and work is appalling. According to the article, "Immokalee has another claim to fame" it is "ground zero for modern slavery" said Douglas Malloy, the chief assistant U.S. attorney in Fort Myers. Since 1997, over 1,000 men and women have been freed by law enforcement and these were only the cases that led to conviction. How many other countless cases went unnoticed? Reading this, leaves me without my breath....In this modern day, who does this? Big growers do behind the cloak of the crew bosses who hire and oversee migrant workers for what exactly? Tasteless supermarket and fast-food restaurant tomatoes! Right away, I make a promise to myself, I will not purchase tomatoes that are not grown and harvested ethically. I will enjoy the bounty of tomatoes from the garden of my friends, and maybe even if I am lucky, my own garden.

My journey evolves into a love story with tomatoes. I am now on a mission, growing my own tomatoes, a more avid consumer of farmer's market. I have this opportunity every Saturday morning at Market Square where Farmer Herman and Louise bring their early morning, just-picked seasonal fruit and vegetables. Farmer Herman also shares a love of tomatoes heirloom tomatoes. The true definition of heirloom has been debated. Some say the seeds need to be 100 years old, some say 50 years old and other say 1945, which marked the end of WWII and the beginning of the use of the hybrid seed which is produced by artificially cross-pollinated plants. Vegetable and fruit hybrids, which often leave you with less flavor, are bred to improve the appearance and were developed to sustain the booming U.S. agricultural industry after WWII.
For the first time, I have joined the ranks of the backyard heirloom tomato growers, and have planted with serious consideration the following heirloom varieties:
  • Farmer Herman's Little Yeller-prolific and delicious
  • Brown Berry Cherry- Lil' cherries with a purple hue
  • Silvery Fir winner of the 2005 taste test- A great medium size tomato ideal for containers. 
I will keep everyone posted on my progress!
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9 comments:

Ricko said...

I also believe in the goodness of home-grown (or at least local) vegetables. I have found the weekly Farmer's Market, with wonderful organic vegetables every Wednesday afternoon! Nice to have a blog on this Velva! ricky

K. said...

Congratulations on the first blog post! I look forward to reading your thoughts and sharing ideas on all aspects of food.

fvknapp said...

I just love your blog

glratlanta said...

I love your blog too! And it's my first time on a blog! Great job! Gayle

Shirley said...

Velva, this is great. You are so right, sharing food with friends old and new is one of the greatest pleasures of life. Look at how many good times we have had over the years all beginning with our love of fine dining

mosher_w said...

Absolutely marvellous. Who knew there was so much to know about tomatoes.....Seriously, nice job Velva

Anne

Rhonda said...

Great job with your blog, I enjoyed all your posts and I have printed off the receipes to try.

Since moving to North Carolina (where we enjoy a larger lot of land) and cooler temperatures, we have cultivated a home vegetable garden. NC is a considered a zone 8 and we are more able to grow seasonal vegetables. We have planted a "9-foot" garden where we grow collard greens, mustard greens, and turnips in the winter and tomotoes in the summer. We hope to add some other vegetables to our garden.

Thanks

Bailey said...

all the new post are just amazing looking

Denise said...

Velva...

Thanks for stopping by Creative Kitchen! I'm now a follower of Tomatoes on the Vine...beautiful blog you have here. I am also fanning you on Facebook. Creative Kitchen is now on Facebook also....kind of an exciting thing for a new blog. I'll be celebrating 6 months this month. It's been a great place to have an outlet for all things food and meet like minded people.

I enjoyed this post on tomatoes and will now see if you have other tomato posts as well. I just blogged about my "irrational fear of tomatoes" last night so if you have any tips/advice for me, please stop by! I am a total tomato newbie!!

Also...I'm on the lookout for fellow Florida food bloggers. I want to have a section in my sidebar of all Florida food bloggers so if you know of any, please let me know. So far I have you, My Food and Life Encounters & of course Steamy Kitchen. Thanks!

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