A Must Read: How Modern Agricultural Practices Have Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit.
That we are what we eat is a truism, yet most of us will not try and change. Indeed it is hard to do so when much of our food is presented in a manner that is alluring, convenient and cheap to buy. But as we know looks can be deceiving and often when we scratch beneath the surface ugly blotches can be revealed.
Tomatoland subtitled “How Modern Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit” brings this message home with force. It is a must read!Tomatoland is a suspense filled expose of today’s food production chain and a warning that we are paying a huge price for going for quantity over quality.
If you wondered why tomatoes taste so bland and look so perfect this book explains why. But the reasons are not pleasant as they also reveal perhaps one of the underlying reasons for the increase in cancers in our society over the past 80 years.
Whilst Tomatoland is an expose of agricultural practices in the USA most Western countries have adopted the same practices.
In the USA commercial food growers decided that Florida would be a convenient place to grow tomatoes on a large scale. It had a warm (but humid) climate, cheap land and was close to the large population base of the East Coast. It did have a couple of little problems. The land was sandy and devoid of nutrients and Florida hosts over 4 dozen insects and different diseases that thrive on tomatoes. The rarity of frosts provides pests and pathogens a haven and the humidity encourages blights, spots and mold.
But the industry easily solved these problems with massive doses of chemicals, pesticides and herbicides.
The tomato you buy in a supermarket in the USA and probably anywhere in the Western World most likely will have been sprayed with a cocktail of more than 100 different pesticides and herbicides. It is picked when green. The test is to make sure it can bounce. Then it is gassed with ethylene. Ethylene is a natural ripening gas given off by many fruits and vegetables when ripening. Still I find it unnatural to manipulate the ripening process by substituting a man made synthetic “natural” substance for the natural ripening process.
The amount of chemicals used in Florida is staggering. In 2006, Florida growers sprayed nearly 4000 tonnes (8 million pounds) of insecticides, fungicides and herbicides.
These techniques may have lead to the tripling of yields, but the resultant fruit has massively reduced amounts of calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin C and fourteen times more sodium than the tomato of 50 years ago.
And there is a human cost to all the spraying. In the case of pesticides, the book chronicles the heart wrenching story of three families whose children were crippled or killed, it was later proved, because of their mothers’ work in the winter tomato fields. What I could not help thinking when reading this is what is the cost to us and future generations if we keep eating food that is continually being poisoned?
But there are some bright spots and the book looks at those in the organic food industry working to change these insane agricultural practices.
It does cost more to have Organic Produce but can we really put a price on our health? If we all request Organic Produce the increased demand will eventually lead to greater organic production and lower costs. At Nushie’s Natural we go out of our way to source certifed Organic Produce to be included in our foods.
Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit
by Barry Estabrook
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published June 7th 2011 by Andrews McMeel Publishing