It is the Walmartification of the Vegetable Kingdom. In our effort to maximize efficiency (not to save energy or motion but to maximize for the single bottom line of profit) our agri-biz industry has worked hard to provide us with “cheap” tomatoes in the dead of winter.
And while Big-Ag has succeeded in getting the price down, the cost is very high. Here, as in so many future decisions humanity must make, we have to take into account the true and total cost of our $5 tee shirt from WallyWorld or the taste-free picked-green 30 cent mealy-pink styrofoam orb we use in our December salad.
There is a difference between PRICE (what I pay) and COST (what we pay, and this includes the entire waste stream, the linear extraction of nutrients from the soil and into the oceans , the impact to the places where we mine, log or manufacture, and the energy and water footprint of everything we consume.) A true accounting in the “new economy” will look beyond price to cost.
Barry Estabrook does just this in his recent Tomatoland, a book based on this article. It exposes the food’s full COST–to the soil, to the people who plant, till and harvest these shippable but barely edible and un-nutritious fruits, and ultimately, to those who only look at the price WE pay at grocery store cash register.
Meanwhile, our Amish Paste heirloom tomatoes are coming on nicely, in spite of the darned tomato blight. With regard to the blight, see this article in Mother Earth News by Floyd County’s Barbara Pleasant.