there are a lot of things that are worth mentioning that happened while i was hanging out in italy for a few weeks, but im going to start by sharing with you a story that i read.
if you’ve ever talked with me about fast food or monsanto or the current state of our nations food systems you know that i get really pissed off. i hate the fact that americans are so caught up in the lives they’ve created for themselves they have no time to really think about food anymore. no one questions the cost at which eating a “tomato” in december comes. have you ever noticed that those winter tomatoes never taste quite right? seem to always be hard as shit with an unnatural green tint to the center when you cut it open? this is because tomatoes shouldn’t be growing in winter. in fact, they shouldn’t really even be growing in florida. as author barry estabrook details in the recently published, “tomatoland” the existence of tomatoes as we know it is completely and utterly fucked.
estabrook carefully breaks down the tomato game that is currently plaguing our nation and surrounding lands. a great majority of the game is being played in florida, the gnarliest of which is pretty much in my backyard. immokalee is just south of fort myers, which, in case you didn’t know is one of the wealthiest cities in the country. immokalee, however, is the direct and complete opposite of fort myers. i’ll let estabrook tell you all about it, but you should know that slavery in america is alive and well. its abhorrent what is taking place in our country just because we can’t take the time to slow down and eat with the seasons and accept the fact that you can’t have fresh summer fruits and vegetables when its not summer. and vice versa. thankfully, the book discusses people and organizations that are making huge efforts to try and make things right. instead of leaving the book feeling completely weighed down by the bad news bears in florida, i felt hopeful. there are still farmers that work very hard to make sure their tomatoes are grown the way tomatoes should be grown, without using the worst of the worst pesticides, without slaves, and in soil that tomatoes like to grow in. here’s hoping these guys save the day.
im actually happy that i read this book while i was in italy. i was in a place where food is thoughtful, revered, and filled with love, from the farm to the table. its just how they live. my family and i had a few cooking classes with a local chef, marlo. when his wife, tzeela, was giving us a tour of their backyard community farm, she pointed to a few tomatoes and told me those would be the last they eat this year. talking food with marlo later, i hesitated in asking, afraid id look like the idiot i looked like, but asked him if, in fact, their regular daily menus will change in the next few weeks. he gave me the, you’re an idiot-look, and, matter of factly said, “yes, we eat with the seasons here.” i just wanted to hear him say it. reading, “tomatoland” while in such a place made me realize that we might be able to help ourselves yet. I like to believe that once people know about the trees being the forest they won’t be able to turn back.