Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Cost of a Tomato

A nice counterpoint to the Village Voice "price gouge alert" of our perfectly organic -- and perfectly expensive -- beefsteak tomatoes is this Salon interview with Barry Eastabrook, author of the new book, Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit. Eastabrook informs us that roughly one third of our tomatoes are grown in Florida, "the worst place in the world," he says, to grow them. It's a bad environment for a number of reasons, including year-round insects which make the use of chemical pesticides especially necessary, rampant fungi growth, and sand-like soil which makes the use of chemical fertilizers especially necessary. The tomatoes are clipped off green, shipped hundreds, or thousands, of miles, and bathed in hormones until they turn approximately the right color.

And people wonder why tomatoes don't taste like tomatoes anymore.


So yes, $6.99 is a hefty price to pay for a pound of tomates. But that's also about what it costs to grow (in a greenhouse), harvest, box, bring them to market, and still turn a profit. 

There's an alternative, of course: 
Grow them yourself.

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