For just a minute, try and forget all the insane things you’re reading about and watching on TV right now. Instead, it might feel very uplifting and important to talk about one of the greatest vegetables, the tomato. It’s getting some uplifting press in an article I stumbled upon recently while desperately searching for a piece of positive, non-political news.
There’s a brave and motivated scientist out there, Dr. Harry Klee, who has vowed to improve the taste of our average grocery store tomato. I hope he makes this happen and brings our nation back together ASAP, because the truth about tomatoes is sometimes they just don’t taste that good. A lot of people omit them entirely from every burger, salad or omelet they eat and that’s a damn shame.
But have you ever had a great tomato? It’s beautiful: fresh and ripe, colorful and flavorful and a huge value-add to so many meals. But when you eat a bad one, it’s real bad. They’re usually a little white in the middle and can be found at your local convenience store produce aisle or highway rest area sandwich shop. They taste like wet cardboard and are as squishy as they are unsatisfying.
And since 1989, Dr. Harry Klee has spent his efforts to researching genetic improvements to Make Tomatoes Great Again! Wait a minute…
No, seriously. Here he is. The problem Dr. Klee is looking to solve has to do with fruit flavor quality, sugars, genomes, size, yield, etc. Lots of scientific terms involved that he’s dedicated 22 years of his life and over $10 million in research funds to finding out.
It’s too complicated to go Two Buttons Deep on at this exact moment in time (that’s why if you’re on the edge of your seat for more info you should read this excellent Vox Q&A with Dr. Klee), but basically what you need to know is:
- Sugars make things taste good –and a tomato plant can only produce only so much sugar through photosynthesis.
- Farmers get paid to have BIG fruits and vegetables. And as we know, if size matters, there are other factors that must be compromised to achieve it (like flavor).
- There are over 3,000 varieties of tomatoes in the world, but the biggest hope for Dr. Klee’s plan to work might now come from big-time farmer, it’s for us folks at home to grow tastier tomatoes our own backyard.
Am I trying to distract you or protect you from other ridiculous newsworthy topics out there? I absolutely am. You might call this a soiled attempt, but please show some lovin’ to the fruits and veggies who are out there grinding regardless of the political climate.