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The Tomato: Pick a Local One for Your Gazpacho, Soup, Sauce or Sandwich

[fusion_text]I’m neither a great storyteller nor am I a journalist. But there is one thing I do know, and that’s food. So this is going to be a column about food, and food education; specifically, the tomato.

Why the tomato, you ask? Because it is possibly the least understood produce out there . . . our food industry overall is not very well understood. Sure, the tomato technically classifies as a fruit, but it’s also a vegetable, looking at it from a nutrient sense. It’s also one of the only produce types that actually does not lose all of its nutrient properties when cooked, one important nutrient being lycopene.

Tomato (2) (Custom)The tomato can be found in 3,000 different heirlooms (a type of plant not crossed with another variety, planted from the same lineage of seeds generation after generation, leaving its genetic structure intact), and over 10,000 total varieties of tomatoes. Each one is unique in its own way, different colors, shapes and sizes, each one with a different antioxidant, each one with its own purpose.

Now how does this tie into the food industry? We live in a strange time when many do not question food safety, or how food is being produced. Some do not question where the food comes from. We live in a time where food is being consumed faster than it can be grown. Think about that, if we’re eating the food before it can be grown where is the food coming from? Is the food even food or is it just food-like substance? If you only knew the amount of restaurants nowadays that are being supplied with “food,” you would think twice about where you eat.

The one thing we do have in Rutherford County is our farmers’ market at Lane Agri-Park. If you have not been there, this is a must. You can usually find your local food industry leaders there, buying real food for real restaurants. Now, granted, we can’t always find green tomatoes in season, so we source from one of the big food vendors, but even the vendor we use knows where, when and who picked that exact case of tomatoes. We live in a time when information is crucial, and at our fingertips. I shouldn’t have to question where you got my tomato, and whether or not it’s fresh—not fresh-frozen, not ripened with gas: fresh!

Tomato (1) (Custom)

So, I implore you, this week, go out and find a fresh tomato. If you can’t find one, come see me I’ll give you a life-changing experience and all it will involve = one fresh tomato and a little bit of salt and pepper, with a lot of love. Simple, just like a tomato is supposed to be. Would you rather eat a tomato that’s been grown in a factory or one that was grown locally? Now, ask yourself whether you would rather eat a dinner that’s been grown in a factory or one that was made locally. Food for thought.

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Do you need an idea of what to do with all of those fine red tomatoes you will see this July? Try a gazpacho—it’s easy!

Gazpacho
6 ripe tomatoes, cut up
½ large cucumber peeled, halved, seeded
1 green pepper, cut into chunks
2 garlic gloves, smashed
1 cup of water
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. sherry vinegar
Salt to taste

Procedure:
Put all into blender.
Blend.
Chill.
Eat.

Life. It’s the simple things.[/fusion_text]

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About the Author

Manny Santana is the owner/operator of The Block, 123 SE Broad St. You can often find him there, at a catering job or at one of the area’s farmers’ markets.

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