Those of us who are of a certain age fondly remember the marvelous taste of a tomato...a real tomato. My summertime memories are filled with delicious memories of eating tomato sandwiches. They consisted of garden fresh tomatoes on toasted white bread with a little mayo and salt. It was so good!
For the past few years I have been wondering what happened to the taste of tomatoes. If it hadn't been for memories of my childhood, I would have no idea what a tomato is supposed to taste like. Those things that they sell at in the produce department may look like tomatoes, but the taste just isn't there.
Well, I finally found out why. There are two reasons, actually.
First of all, tomatoes, like most fruit and vegetables purchased these days at your typical grocery store are picked a long time before they are ripe. You see, they often must travel long distances before they end up on the grocery store shelf. If they were picked when they were ripe, they would be rotten by the time they reached the grocery store.
Therefore they are picked before they are ripe, and they ripen on some truck or some airplane for a bit, and then finish ripening on the grocery store shelves and even on our counter tops at home.
Haven't you noticed they are rock hard sometimes, even at the store? The sad part is that fruit and vegetables are at their peak flavor when they are picked ripe.
Of course, the best way to fix this problem is to grow your own produce.
But if that's not an option, the next best thing is to buy locally grown produce at your nearest farmer's market. Also, in many grocery stores these days, there is a section within the produce department that contains only locally grown foods. If your store doesn't have one, ask for it!
Since locally grown fruits and veggies don't have to travel such long distances, they usually aren't picked well before they should be.
Another reason tomatoes taste so awful these days is because they have been modified to look good! That's right. The really tasty 'maters of yore were actually quite ugly. We didn't notice it, perhaps, but tomato sellers did. They realized that the pretty tomatoes sold better because they were more appealing to the eye than the ugly ones. The delicious ones had little scruffs of green and brown on them when they were at their peak.
So scientists, in their "wisdom," figured out a means of hybridizing tomatoes to achieve a beautiful, uniform redness that is ever so pleasing to the eye and results in increased purchases. Bit careful analysis of these modified tomatoes show that they are actually missing a gene that accounts for the delicious taste.
I am not surprised at this information. Our food supply has been so tampered with, it's quite disheartening. This is just the latest example.
But at the risk of being "Debbie Downer" the good news is that you can find delicious food that's good for you if you simply put forth a little extra effort to find it.