Thursday, October 27, 2016


Tomatoland is a scathing critique of Florida's industrial tomato agriculture and the many negative impacts. A great deal of time is spent discussing the plight of the farm workers, who are exposed to toxic chemicals and even enslaved. (Often it is "bad immigrants" that have connections to the new workers hometowns that do the enslaving. These guys can threaten both the workers and their families back home.) Activists had worked hard to get workers a penny more per pound from major suppliers. However, most of this remained in escrow with the farmers (who complained they could not easily identify who would receive them.)

Tomatoes have also become durable green orbs that have been optimized for shipping rather than taste or nutrition. (It is even illegal to export "non-conforming" tomatoes from Florida.) There was a great fight merely to allow the "ugly ripe" tomato to be sold. It is now an extremely profitable tomato that has much of the durability of commercial tomatoes, but sacrifices some of the looks in order to restore some taste. Perhaps we will continue to make progress in producing good tomatoes. The book concludes with some positive experiences of summer operations that focus on locally produced high quality tomatoes produced with well paid labor. Alas, these delicious ones are a minority in the world filled with cheep tomato-like balls of water.

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