Holy Tomato, What The Heck’s Going On?

It happens with apples.  It happens with peaches and it certainly happens with many, many other types of produce but perhaps one of the fruits most affected by this terrible issue that personally bothers me the most is when it happens with tomatoes.

What’s the issue?

Having to chose between local and not organic, or organic but not local.

And why tomato in particular?

Because I’ve run into so many people over the years that comment that they don’t like tomatoes but the only type of tomato they’ve ever had the chance to try is the type that’s been conventionally grown far away, picked far too early, stored in a chilled container to prevent spoilage and then shipped to the grocery store.

If that’s the only type of tomato I’d ever had, I, too would not be a fan.  That product tends to be mealy, odorless and have a hint of an orangey-green color.  The taste?  Well, think of biting into a nice piece of…packing foam.  Exactly.

I was lucky enough to have a mom that would grow tomatoes in the garden during the summer and I will be the first to tell you that there is absolutely nothing like an organic tomato, fresh out of your own backyard.

If you don’t grow your own but have access to a farmer’s market which carries them in season, you absolutely must partake. With the exception of anyone following the autoimmune protocol in which case night shades are to be avoided, tomatoes are a lovely, summertime part of any True Paleo regime.

But what to do about the issue at hand?   Just yesterday I was at Whole Foods where I must say all the tomatoes looked lovely in color.  I picked up several types and they all felt firm and smelled fantastic…but then a quick peek at the label showed that the ones certified organic were imported, and the ones sourced locally were not.

After speaking with many farmers directly, and learning that some are organic but simply  haven’t had the budget to pay for the certification, I do tend to lean just a little bit toward going with local, not organic…if I must choose and if I can make the purchase at the farmer’s market directly.

I just can’t stomach the idea of supporting produce imported from far away when the very same thing is growing locally, naturally at the same time of year.

Yes, there are grey areas here, too.

One example is a banana.  Bananas do not grow near my home in Los Angeles and they certainly don’t grow near our NYC pied-à-terre.  But I purchase organic, fair trade bananas to enjoy after a long run.

Is one morally right or morally wrong?

I honestly cannot answer that.

My best approach is to be as local as you can, as organic as you can and balance it all out rather than being too black and white about it.

What’s your take?