With all the help they can get from their chemical friends, and provided that they are not killed by frosts or blown over by hurricanes, Florida tomatoes are ready for picking after ten to fifteen weeks. Ready for picking, but by no means ripe. An industrial Florida tomato is harvested when it is still hard and green and then taken to a packinghouse, where it is gassed with ethylene until it artificially acquires the appearance of ripeness. But as far back as the 1920s, food scientists had determined that no tomato artificially ripened with ethylene would ever have taste and texture equal to one allowed to ripen naturally. In the field, any fruits that show the slightest blush of pink, let alone red, are left to rot or are scavenged by freelance "pinhookers" who pay a small fee to enter fields that have been harvested and collect fruits showing color to sell to local restaurants and vegetable stands or through pinhookers’ markets. It’s not that the Florida growers can’t pack fully ripe tomatoes. They have done it in the past. But doing so requires frequent harvesting over a long period of time, which is costly. It is more profitable for them and their large fast food and supermarket customers to handle and sell tomatoes that are harvested in two or three passes when they are green, indestructibly hard, and impeccably smooth skinned and have a couple of weeks of shelf life ahead of them. Taste does not enter the equation. "No consumer tastes a tomato in the grocery store before buying it. I have not lost one sale due to taste," one grower said. "People just want something red to put in their salad."Posted at onearth, via Cynical-C.
04 July 2011
Why we grow our own tomatoes
It's not a matter of cost; it's a matter of taste. Here's an excerpt from the book "Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit":