By Jana Jones
August is here and with that comes TOMATOES and lots of them! Customers have been asking since May when we will be getting tomatoes in – and here they are. There is nothing like a home grown, vine-ripened tomato. Why is that? Why is it a well known fact that tomatoes grown in your own back yard or, in the case of the farmers market, your neighbor’s back yard, tastes like a different fruit all together than the tomatoes bought in the supermarket?
In his book Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit, Barry Estabrook reveals why this is so. “The industrial tomatoes are picked by hand while still green, loaded into a huge truck and driven miles to a warehouse-like processing plant where they’re washed, waxed, put in cartons, and then the cartons are placed on pallets. These bright green tomatoes go into warehouse-like buildings where the doors are closed and the processors turn on ethylene gas, and the tomatoes are gassed. Now, ethylene will cause a tomato to turn red. It’s actually emitted naturally by the plants in the fields when the fruit is ripe. In this case, it’s artificial, and even if a tomato is not ripe, it obligingly turns red.” Estabrook then goes further to explain the necessary chemicals that are needed in Florida to combat the moisture loving fungus, bacteria, mold and insects. “There are 110 different chemicals in the official Florida guidebook for commercial tomato growers that you can spray on a field over the course of the few months that those tomatoes are growing, including many that the EPA rates as acutely toxic”.Tomatoes sold at the Johnson County Farmers Market (JCFM) are grown with organic methods without using harmful pesticides or herbicides. If you are one of those people who like to put up your tomatoes for use during the winter months, now is a great time to stock up to make batches of salsa, canned tomatoes, and homemade marinara sauce. I have a favorite recipe for a low-fat pesto that uses tomatoes in place of some of the olive oil. See what you think:
Place 2 cups of fresh basil leaves, 2 vine-ripened tomatoes(chopped into quarters) ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, ¾ cup pumpkin seeds, 6 cloves garlic, and 1 cup freshly ground parmesan cheese into a blender and blend until smooth. Add salt to taste. Serve over pasta or use as a sauce with vegetables such as squash, eggplant, zucchini, cauliflower, or cabbage (baked, stir-fried, grilled or steamed). This recipe can also be frozen. I used up our last container of low-fat pesto a month ago from our 2016 harvest and it still tasted fresh.
The JCFM is now accepting donations for our silent auction to take place at the Farm-to-Table Harvest Celebration Dinner next month. Donations can be dropped off at the Johnson County Welcome Center where you can find more information about the dinner and purchase tickets. We greatly appreciate your support for our local farmers and crafters.
The Johnson County Farmers Market is located at the County Courthouse parking lot across from the post office in downtown Mountain City, Tennessee. Open every Saturday from 9 til noon from May through October. Follow us on Facebook to keep abreast of new items offered each week. Or visit us online at JohnsonCountyFM.org.