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Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit
 
 
Author
Barry Estabrook.
Publisher Andrews McMeel  
Format paperback
ISBN 9781449423452
Pages/Publication Date 233/2012
Daedalus Item Code 29499
This item is not available.
Description
Americans have come to expect supermarket produce sections to carry an abundant, year-round supply of perfectly round, bright red tomatoes. But in this intelligent expansion of his James Beard Award–winning article "The Price of Tomatoes," investigative food journalist Barry Estabrook reveals the enormous human and environmental cost of a five-billion-dollar industry, tracing the supermarket tomato from its birthplace in the deserts of Peru to the impoverished town of Immokalee, Florida, the U.S. tomato capital. In this production line, fields are sprayed with more than 100 different herbicides and pesticides; tomatoes are picked hard and green and gassed with ethylene until their skins redden; and modern plant breeding has produced fruits with dramatically reduced amounts of calcium and vitamins A and C and 14 times more sodium. Worse, the drive for low costs has fostered a virtual slave-labor trade in the United States. Estabrook includes a who's who of the tomato industry, including the avuncular octogenarian whose conglomerate grows one out of every eight tomatoes eaten in the United States; the ex-Marine who heads the group that dictates the size, color, and shape of every tomato shipped out of Florida; and the U.S. attorney who has doggedly prosecuted human traffickers for the past decade, as well as a Guatemalan peasant who came north to earn money for his parents' medical bills and found himself enslaved for two years. "In fast-moving, tautly narrated scenes, Barry Estabrook tells the startling story of labor conditions that should not exist in this country or this century, and makes sure you won't look at a supermarket or fast-food tomato the same way again," avowed Corby Krummer in The Atlantic. "But he also gives hope for a better future—and a better tomato. Anyone who cares about social justice should read Tomatoland. Also anyone who cares about finding a good tomato you can feel good about eating."

"In my ten years as editor of Gourmet magazine, the article I am proudest to have published was Barry Estabrook's 'The Price of Tomatoes.' Now he's expanded that into this astonishingly moving and important book. If you have ever eaten a tomato—or ever plan to—you must read Tomatoland. It will change the way you think about America's most popular 'vegetable.' More importantly, it will give you new insight into the way America farms."—Ruth Reichl

"Estabrook first looks at the tomato's ancestors in Peru, grown naturally in coastal deserts and Andean foothills, with fruit the size of large peas. Crossbreeding produced bigger, juicier varieties, and by the late 19th century, Florida had muscled in on the U.S. market, later benefiting from the embargo on Cuban tomatoes; the Sunshine State now produces one-third of the fresh tomatoes in this country. To combat sandy soil devoid of nutrients, and weather that breeds at least 27 insect species and 29 diseases that prey on the plants, Florida growers bombard tomato plants with a dizzying cocktail of herbicides and pesticides, then gas the 'mature greens' (fruit plucked so early from the vines that they bounce without a scratch) with ethylene. Behind the scenes, moreover, there exists a horrendous culture of exploitation of Hispanic laborers in places like Immokalee, where pesticide exposure has led to birth defects and long-term medical ailments. Estabrook concludes this thought-provoking book with some ideas from innovators trying to build a better tomato."—Publisher's Weekly

 
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