The Heirloom Tomato Dilemma

I know it’s on all our minds: Do we use heirloom tomatoes for gazpacho or not?  I was thinking about the 525 dead in Egypt, the Syrian civil war, and the announcement today of “a huge explosion” in Beirut, but then I realized: Does anyone care about any of that?

Aren’t we more concerned with heirloom tomatoes?  Never mind that it’s essentially a marketing term–there is no such thing, botanically speaking, as “heirloom” anything, and the term was made up to sell tomatoes that have no evident health benefits or better taste–aren’t we more concerned with what type of tomatoes we eat than the 21st Century Balkans?

I mean, face it: Most of us in the U.S. read about history and some participate in it, but our reading and participation don’t change the course of events for the most part.

Whereas deciding whether to use an heirloom tomato or not?  That is a game changer.

Have a look at what scientists are saying about heirloom tomatoes.

In an article in Scientific American that appeared on 3/30/09, the author notes: “The product of archaic breeding strategies, heirloom tomatoes are hardly diverse and are no more ‘natural’ than grocery-store varieties.”  However, the author notes, help is on the way: Thanks to Monsanto, the company despised by anti-GMO folks (who could not care less if GMOs create higher yield crops needed to feed people in the developing world), research is creating an heirloom, “rainbow-streaked tomato less prone to cracking and also endowed with 12 disease-resistant genes.”

Is that a car bomb I just heard go off?  Don’t be silly!  It’s a truck on the way to the Farmer’s Market with this week’s supply of heirloom tomatoes!


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