What Goes Around, Comes Around


My choice of heading for this week’s blog isn’t the least bit vindictive. I’m not telling you that justice has been served or that you got what you deserved. My intent is to take you through a brief history of a tomato’s journey from farm to market.

Before the invention of refrigeration, farmers transported crops by horse and wagon to the local market. If the market wasn’t close, canned goods were the only option. Refrigerated railroad cars came in the 1840s for short-run dairy delivery, and by the 1870s, breweries were the largest users of commercial refrigeration. It wasn’t until the mid-20th century that refrigeration units were installed on trucks for the transport of perishable goods such as fruit and vegetables from one corner of the continent to the other.

As you can imagine, this was an economic breakthrough. The result was fewer, bigger fresh food processing plants and a heck of a lot more trucks, gas and roadways. As a grower of tomatoes, you’d think I’d be happy by the opportunity of a larger market. This is not the case – my first priority is a perfect tomato; the further the destination, the greater the risks of quality damage because of transport time, added handling and a loss of control when it comes to other people’s warehousing. Truck and warehouse temperatures below 55 degrees rob fresh tomatoes of their scrumptious flavor. Preserving the original farm-fresh quality of most fruits or vegetables that journey the roads from Mexico to New York or from Los Angeles to Montreal is near impossible.

Generally speaking, the further a fresh vegetable or fruit is from the farm, the worse its flavor will be. That is why so many grocers and supermarkets have decided to re-institute local buying.* That makes me happy. With greenhouses in California and British Columbia, our tomatoes find their way to the shelves of those West Coast grocers who value quality.**

So, despite the advancements in food preservation, the old way of ‘close to the market’ is still the best way. What goes around, comes around. Regardless, your best strategy for the utmost in Houweling’s taste is to eat our tomatoes right away. If you can’t eat them all, keep them out of the refrigerator and store them on the counter. We don’t call them fresh tomatoes for nothing.

With my regards,

*You might enjoy Green Living’s 8 reasons why it is better to be a “locavore”. http://www.greenlivingonline.com/article/benefits-buying-local-food

**For the record, Houweling’s Tomatoes can be found in Publix Supermarkets throughout the year. Publix is a Florida grocer known for their care in handling and transporting fresh produce. To preserve freshness, we pick a few days early which allows the vines to continue to feed nutrients to the ripening tomatoes on route.

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