Friday, August 14, 2009

Why Heirloom Tomatoes Are Better For Health and Sustainable Living


Why are Heirloom Tomatoes better for health and sustainability? An organically grown Heirloom tomato has more flesh, less water & seeds and has more nutrient content. Grown organically, it is richer, denser, more flavorful & nutrient dense than conventional tomatoes grown with synthetic fertilizers that deplete soil, lead to dead zones in crop areas and fish habitats, kills beneficial microorganisms etc.

It is tomato season and I've been picking my crop of Heirloom variety's that include the Cherokee Purple - pink-purple fruits that are generally crack free and disease resistant with a meaty smooth taste, The Livingston Gold Queen - a great looking medium sized yellow beefsteak introduced by the Livingston Seed Company in the late 1800's and absolutely incredible taste. The Purple Passion - A nice black variety that produces a great number of 5-8 oz. dusky brown fruits that have a sweet rich flavor and the Brandywine - A favorite Amish heirloom variety that goes back to the late 1800's.

Heirloom tomatoes are the original strain of tomato plants that through selective harvesting of seeds and plants have evolved into better quality tomatoes grown in gardens worldwide for over the past 100 + years but cultivation goes back for centuries. They are developed as nature intended. Their shape is typically more ribbed & non uniform with some actually being pretty misshapen. So they may not always look as attractive as the varieties we have grown accustomed to but they are truly a superior tomato but more specifically when grown organically without synthetic fertilizer. The synthetic fertilizer has a tendency to create a tomato with more water and seeds whereby reducing the meatiness, flavor and some nutrients.



Most of today’s tomatoes actually have been altered from their original state and no longer are the heirloom variety. There was a hybridization process through forced cross pollination that began after WWII and really gained momentum in the 1970’s to enhance appearance of tomatoes along with increasing the crop yields, transport survival and shelf life. The hybridized tomatoes were designed to grow more rounded with a symmetrical proportion and little to no blemishes.

Hybridization was a revolutionary technique that facilitated alteration through the natural potential union of plants. Food producers were looking to build a better product and improve revenues. One benefit was the belief that the appearance made the product more attractive to consumers and slowly the shift was made where people just got used to buying tomatoes that had very little rich red color left. In addition, because conventional farming uses large amounts of synthetic fertilizers, these tomatoes are often loaded with seeds and water with little internal flesh, is extremely lacking in taste and more often is a nutrient deficient tomato having less of the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients your body needs.

Don’t be discouraged though because fresh fruits and vegetables still provide your best sources of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, phytonutrients and bioactive life enhancing energy. That being said, if you ever tried an heirloom tomato you will understand what I mean about the better taste quality and dense “meatiness” of these tomatoes. If you haven’t, I suggest you buy one heirloom (Ugly) tomato, preferably one that is organic – locally grown – without synthetic fertilizer and one regular tomato (especially one that is not vine ripened). Try them side by side and determine the difference for yourself.

If you want to learn about the rich history of the tomato, visit: Landscape Imagery
For Unique and Heirloom variety seeds from many plants, visit: Seed Savers it is a clearinghouse for the collection and distribution of heirloom seeds including tomato seeds

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