Nonfiction — print. Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2011. 224 pgs. Library copy.
It has been my experience that reading about modern industrial agriculture can be incredibly overwhelming if an author takes on the entire system without focusing on a single element – pigs, milk, tomatoes. Therefore, it’s also harder to change consumers’ habits when they feel overwhelmed and cannot figure out which item(s) to change. I was so intrigued when I heard about Estabrook’s book because it focuses on a single item that I use in almost every meal I eat.
I heard many people express disgust over how tasteless commercial tomatoes are but, honestly, I really have never noticed that much of a difference between my garden tomatoes and the tomatoes we purchase at the grocery story. I have noticed a difference in the texture as the seasons change and marveled over how the tomatoes at the grocery store always look the exact same no matter if it’s the dead of winter or the middle of summer. If you think you’re getting variety by purchasing grape or cheery tomatoes instead of slicing tomatoes think again – they are all from the same type of tomato and only differ in appearance.
At the halfway point of Estabrook’s book I was ready to decree no more tomatoes for my family other than those we grow in our garden during the summer because, if you’ve had a tomato from Florida, you’ve had a tomato picked by a slave. If that wasn’t bad enough, Estabrook explains how tomatoes are flavorless because of when they picked and the pesticides, fungicides, and fertilizers used are poisoning both the land and the people who pick them. Yikes!
The book ends on a bit of a high note so please don’t think it is a depressing slog through the tomato fields of Florida. It’s actually a very informative, eye-opening read, especially if you enjoy tomatoes in your salad no matter the time of year.
The Honors Project:
I read this book for The Honors Project, my own personal challenge to read more books about economics, food, and/or geography in preparation for writing my honors thesis. My goal for this project is to learn as much as I can about these topics so I can formulate better questions and, in turn, produce a better honors thesis. You can find out more information by checking out my introductory post, project post, or spreadsheet of titles.