What About This . . .? By Wayne William Cipriano

September. Finally! Our tomatoes came in. It seemed like forever before something happened.

The plants all came from seeds that Rosalie’s friend Sandra gave her. I know that beginning with small plants that have been started in a nursery somewhere would speed up the time ‘til tomatoes, and consequently, the extra time seeds take seems to magnify the wait.

Yes, they do taste great as do all home-grown or locally produced fruits and vegetables. Our tomatoes may not look as perfect as those at the grocery store, but the red on them is naturally produced and not the result of some chemical that changes the color of an unripened, very unripened, tomato.

The taste of local tomatoes emphasizes how lacking in taste those beautifully-colored barely ripened ones are. We get that pretty much from all our fruits and vegetables since they have come so far to get to us, and must start that journey young enough such that the time in transit doesn’t over-ripen them. 

When you live near where fruits and vegetables are grown, and you experience what they are supposed to taste like, you are ruined from then onward. Canned fruits and vegetables, harvested near their perfect ripeness, still don’t quite measure up to dragging the foodstuffs right off the plants or trees, washing them off, preparing them within the hour, and enjoying them for dinner. Even if you didn’t grow them, bought at the farmers’ market, or stealthed your way into Farmer John’s sweet cornfield, fresh always tastes best.

Who can tell about the nutritional value of fresh vs. frozen vs. canned vs. dried, etc.? Every news story we hear about the value (or danger) of those things we consume seems to change according to who is paying for the study reported. The one I am particularly sensitive to is coffee. For Rosalie, it’s chocolate.

Are these things good for you? Are they bad? Prepared how? What about moderation? And what exactly, is “moderation” anyway? My moderation, in terms of coffee, was just enough to be totally wired all day long.

Now that our tomatoes have finally shown up, there isn’t going to be too much consumption moderation until they are all gone. We don’t can, and freezing only results in sauce makings. I’ve heard you can dry them, not sure how, but then end up with more sauce makings. Of course, because we are so strong in the Italian food area, all that sauce is put to good use, but there’s a limit, right?

On the other hand, a big plate of sliced tomatoes that were on the vine an hour ago, drenched in wine vinegar, and covered with oregano, basil, black pepper, and shredded Parmesan cheese at the table every night until tomato season has passed is a pleasure that mitigates the time, effort and cost of raising them , doesn’t it?

Our tomatoes are both delicious and nutritious, and they look pretty good, too. But, if you rely on the math alone, they may not be worth it, considering that time, that effort, and the cash involved in producing them – about $16 per tomato.