Grandson Discovers What Tomatoes Used to Taste Like — “Then What’s in Campbell’s Soup Grandma?”
TORONTO — Four-year-old Hayden considered himself a bit of an expert on what tomatoes are all about and would often ask if he could put ketchup on his Honey Nut Cheerios.
Or could he just skip the cereal and have a bowlful of “katchmup?”
But yesterday the toddler tried a garden-grown tomato for the first time, ate the whole fruit in seconds flat, and then his kid-curiosity kicked in and he wanted to know why they don’t put tomatoes in his Campbell’s soup?
Or on his favorite Lays potato chips?
Or in his beloved Heinz Ketchup?
And how come when he’s made to eat a “shalad” the red wedges don’t taste at all like the tomato his Grandmother Susan just gave him?
“Today’s tomatoes taste like…well nothing really,” Hayden’s Grandmother Susan told the Toronto Star today.
“They taste like water a bit I guess.”
Widowed Susan joined a gardening co-op in the Toronto Beaches suburb last year mostly to meet men she admits, and this year grew her own plants from heritage seeds. Hayden is glad she did.
“Hayden used to try to feed any tomato on his plate to Bonzo and that dog will eat anything…except tomatoes,” laughed the 56-year-old.
“Or he’d wait until no one was looking and fling the slices into a house plant.”
“Now he loves tomatoes and says that ‘katchmup’ tastes like pooie…although I’m sure he has no idea what that might taste like…I hope.”
Industrially-farmed tomatoes are now almost entirely modified F1 hybrids bred for weight, perfect shape and to able to endure 10-days or more of shipping. Primarily grown in Florida, California, Ontario and British Columbia, the crops are approved for spraying with 110 fungicides, pesticides and herbicides.
“I used to love biting into a tomato and getting that tangy taste,” said Susan.
“Now the only good thing you can say about tomatoes is that they’re red.”
Mechanically-picked while still green, the tomatoes are gassed with ethylene to turn them yellowish prior to shipping. Since the early 1970s, the nutritional value of supermarket tomatoes has changed dramatically with a 35-40% drop in Vitamin C, and a nearly 50% drop in niacin and calcium.
“Hell, I don’t get paid a penny extra if they taste good,” a Florida grower told the New York Times.
“Nobody taste-tests their tomatoes before putting ’em in their shopping cart anyways.”
“I don’t eat ’em myself. No taste.”
Reportering for The Lapine