MTPR

The Perfect Tomato

Sep 30, 2015

The Food Guys introduce the Garden Gem tomato in their discussion of "This Is the Perfect Tomato, But Supermarkets Refuse To Sell It" by Mark Schatzker (July 16, 2015, Slate online).

Tomato  lovers, rejoice, for science has achieved the impossible: the perfect supermarket tomato. The Garden Gem won’t bruise during shipping, it resists many of the major diseases that regularly decimate tomato crops, and it is a flesh-producing powerhouse, turning out up to 22 pounds of tomatoes per plant, which is as productive as the best modern cultivars.

But there is one aspect in which the Garden Gem is very different from every other supermarket tomato: flavor. It actually has it. Lots. More than 500 sensory panelists at the University of Florida have declared it among the very best tomatoes they have tested.  

Tomato lovers, stop rejoicing. Because you will not find the perfect supermarket tomato in any supermarket. Not now, and perhaps not ever. It’s not because the Garden Gem is a genetically modified organism - it was bred the same way tomatoes have been bred for thousands of years. It’s not because some multinational owns the patent and won’t release it in the U.S. (which, unfortunately, is the case with a superb British potato called the Mayan Gold).  It’s because Big Tomato doesn’t care about flavor. Tomato farmers don’t care. Tomato packers don’t care. And supermarkets don’t care.

When it comes to flavor, the tomato industry is broken. And not even the Garden Gem appears able to fix it. 

(Broadcast: "The Food Guys," 9/27/15 and 10/1/15. Listen weekly on the radio at 11:50 a.m. Sundays and again at 4:54 p.m. Thursdays, or via podcast.)