IT WAS placed there on the kitchen bench early in July.
Store-bought, an oblique spheroid with a dimpled umbilical on top, perfectly shaped, and evenly red, it had not a blemish.
It is September now and there is more cold weather in the offing. Winter has not yet done, in stoic rejection of the unthinking dogma of the modern media who insist the seasons start punctually at the first of the month, Spring has been and gone, but it will return when it is good and ready and bring on the growing season. Then, I shall plant some tomato seedlings and they will produce fruit full of the taste of summer.
This is not a new phenomenon. Anyone who has enjoyed a ripe tomato from the garden will confirm my statement. “If you want a tasty tomato, grow it yourself.” Why, then, is it so? Why do the shops sell us such a flavor-less product?
I had a thought. Our tomatoes are mostly grown hydroponically in greenhouses. Perhaps the growing medium is loaded with all the correct nutrients, but lacks the microbial activity found in soil. That might also explain why the lone tomato in our fruit-bowl shows little sign of decay – no bacteria present. Have I had a “eureka” moment? A little reading, however, dispelled that idea. Hydroponic growers have already been down that road. Microbe test counts have shown ample microbial activity.
Back to the search engine where I read how farmers (it is always the farmer’s fault) about 70 years ago modified the genetics (not GMO) in a bid to create perfect colour. They bred the tomato for commercial requirements. The loss of flavour was considered fair exchange when a product looked that good. The colour looked consistent over the entire shelf life and growers could pick green fruit in another state, ripen it in a truck during the 1000-mile journey to market and satisfy the aforementioned customer’s desire.
That is, I conclude, why the modern commercial offering has no flavour. The tag might advertise “sun ripened”, but is it?
The compliant consumer has quickly learned that tomatoes have no intrinsic ripeness, texture, aroma or succulent taste. That naïve gourmet remains complete.
Meanwhile, that tomato on our kitchen bench will not be eaten. It is now “exhibit A” and we wait to see when some force of nature causes the breakdown of that organic marvel. Should it even be added to the compost heap?
When the heat of summer arrives, warm nights will ripen them, then I plan to eat tasty tomatoes.
In the meantime, I remain a jolly curmudgeon.