Friday, July 06, 2012

Three books about tomatoes

It's tomato season! That is, I'm daily plucking cherry tomatoes by the handful from my hanging basket plant. I love tomatoes!

Here are 3 books about tomatoes that look tempting:

1. Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit, by Barry Estabrook.

I think the subtitle says it all. More about the book on NPR:

"As one large Florida farmer said, 'I don't get paid a single cent for flavor,' " says Estabrook. "He said, 'I get paid for weight. And I don't know of any supermarket shopper who tastes her tomatoes before she puts them in her shopping cart.' ... It's not worth commercial plant breeders' while to breed for taste because their customers — the large farmers — don't get paid for it."

Or read the article from which this book grew.

(And aren't the covers gorgeous?)

2. Ripe: The Search for the Perfect Tomato, by Arthur Allen.

This book covers the tomato's history, how it's been popularized and modified. Consumer interest in heirloom tomatoes led the author to sample a wide variety of tomatoes from various regions and try to grow a few himself. Read an excerpt.

3. The $64 Tomato: How One Man Nearly Lost His Sanity, Spent a Fortune, and Endured an Existential Crisis in the Quest for the Perfect Garden, by William Alexander.

This memoir is about more than just tomatoes — there's a vast vegetable garden at stake. And again, the subtitle says it all. And still, I think it's relevant to me and I can relate, in the burdens of tending my paltry-by-comparison container garden on the balcony and the cost analysis I conduct on yield per materials and effort (I break about even). Read an excerpt.

1 comment:

Dwight said...

OK, I'm craving tomatoes now after looking at those covers.

One more book not directly on tomatoes but they do figure in it--1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created by Charles Mann. It goes into pretty good detail on the "Columbian exchange" (including, as he put it, how tomatoes ended up in Italy). Part of the genesis of the book had to do with tomatoes (as can be read online in the prologue...several online book sites have it available).