Saturday, July 24, 2010

From the Farm: Tomato Season

As Ellie noted earlier this week, it's tomato time in farmland. Here at Earth Sky Time, tomatoes are our cash crop. They cost us much in time and labor and greenhouse to raise, and yet we manage to sell our gorgeous tomatoes by the truckload.

We've had fruit for nearly a month now, but in the last two weeks, the greenhouses have exploded. Nothing else on the farm compares in terms of sheer variety and abundance. Green zebras that shimmer in their lime green stripes. Brandywines and Paul Robesons and Cosmonaut Volkovs. We have heirlooms rippling into mutant shapes and enormous bright red sumptuous softballs of juicy bliss.

And then there are the sungolds, the crown jewel of our modest tomato kingdom. How I managed to never notice this incomparable plant before this year eludes me. These yellow-orange cherry tomatoes explode with the sweetest nectar of any tomato I've ever had. I routinely tell people at the farmer's market that they are magical creations. I have no idea if they believe me or not, but they always buy them.

It's not hard to understand the appeal. Tomatoes are bright and colorful, juicy and sweet. Their appeal is instantaneous, but also unsubtle. We have many unique vegetables growing here, but like a Tolstoy novel or a Radiohead B-side, they take a little effort to appreciate. Tomatoes do the work for you.

Which is not to disparage my beloved sungolds. They bring me ample pleasure on a consistent basis. But having read recently that Americans consume less than one percent of the foodstuffs available to them, it's probably best to spread the wealth around a little.

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