Another Strike For Winter Tomatoes

Not a winter tomato, from my parents' garden

I don't buy tomatoes in the winter because I don't see the point in eating them. The insipid, rock-hard orbs usually taste like a refrigerator.

When I cracked open the latest issue of Gourmet last night, I was given another more serious reason to avoid trucked-in winter tomatoes: buying them essentially fuels modern slavery.

I like when Gourmet gets political. Barry Estabrook's story "The Price of Tomatoes" is a must-read that chronicles the abuses, involuntary servitude and general misery inflicted on tomato pickers in Florida, where 90 percent of domestic winter tomatoes come from.

At the end of the story, you'll find tips for buying slave-free tomatoes, including looking for locally produced hydroponic greenhouse tomatoes.


monkeyrotica said...

And yet you can't escape the ethelene-treated garbage tomatoes in premade sandwiches, burgers, and salads. Seriously, this stuff tastes like NOTHING. Why is it even there? I guess the same reason they seem to drown everything in mayo: it's cheap and it's there.

Anonymous said...

Please remember that hydroponic tomatoes use a lot of energy. So, if you are trying to be green, just wait for the summer local tomatoes.

Husband said...

I've typically been vehement about not eating most tomatoes out of season because they are terrible. But, when my wife pointed out the story in Gourmet, it was really just too much. I'm not the kind of guy who boycotts or raises up about issues, but this is completely unacceptable. So, I'll not be buying any tomatoes until summer, and even then it likely will be from a local producer.

Anonymous said...

I'm trying to be green AND slavery-free, but I sure do love my tomatoes. What to do?

marie said...

Thanks a ton for this article. Some of my friends and I struggle with the smugness that comes with local-tarian and organic living (to the dismay of many of our friends). We are all progressives, though try to look at food politics from multiple perspectives. As academics and activists who study international relations, ideology, and food politics, we see local-tarianism as a "liberal" protectionist response to globalization. Now that the West/Global North has promoted global capital and agribusiness (and poor farmers around the globe have had to respond to these demands), in order to protect ourselves in these days of waning US influence, there is this local-tarianism momentum. I think, though, that we need to be cautious of the deep post-colonial and elite unethical messages hidden in such movements. The article about winter tomato growing calls into question beautifully the ethics of local-tarianism. For more information see the interesting article below and please pass along to others. Finally, I fear that local restaurants that promote farm to table eating may be somewhat short-sighted.