Would that be a banana, watermelon, tomato, or apple?
Although many still think of it as a vegetable, the tomato is — scientifically speaking — a fruit. In fact, according to both the BBC and World Atlas, it’s the most popular fruit in the world. World Atlas reports that more than 170 million metric tons of tomatoes are produced annually worldwide, for raw or processed consumption in sauces, soups, and more. In a distant second place is the banana, with more than 114 million metric tons produced every year. And close behind that is the watermelon, with 111 million metric tons produced annually. Fourth place goes to the apple, which is produced at a rate of 84 million metric tons yearly, in part due to their relatively limited growth area. (courtesy of World Atlas)
As tomatoes are coming to harvest, you might think the United States is the largest producer of tomatoes. Wrong! It is, of course,, China, followed by India, Turkey, then the U.S. Here at home, as expected, California leads the way with South Carolina a very distant second. Processing tomatoes bring about $70 to $80 a ton on the open market. Surprisingly, ketchup is a $6 billion business worldwide.
When you see a truckload of tomatoes going down the freeway,, the typical truck holds 50,000 pounds of tomatoes, or about 300,000 tomatoes. During the height of the season, 2 billion pounds of tomatoes are produced each week! Imagine the tomato fight we could have, ala’ La Tomatina in Bunol, Spain.
The heaviest tomato ever grown was 7 pounds, 12 ounces (3.61kg) grown in Edmond, OK. Remember tomatoes are high in vitamins A and C, along with antioxidant, lycopene, as well as low in calories. And it is probably one of the most versatile foods in your pantry. Cooked tomatoes are actually better for oyu than raw, since more beneficial chemicals are released. Because they have seeds, and grow from a flowering plant, tomatoes are classified as a fruit, not a vegetable.
Much to my dismay, along with a myriad of small farmers, Wall Street hedge funds are also involved in tomatoes, as well as other California produce. But I digress, the size of California farms and how they get their water is a different story for a different day.
Another side bar: If you want to grow GREAT tomatoes in your backyard, I have two secrets for you. One, always buy the tomato plant, never buy the seed. And two, always use chicken manure! The Beefsteak, and Beef Master are my two favorites.
Would you believe that tomatoes originated in the southern Andes, near modern day Peru? Today, tomatoes are the state vegetable of New Jersey. And it is the state fruit of Ohio. Tomatoes come in all colors, but red is the most common, and popular.
About this time, you are probably figuring on using tomatoes in your morning omelet, or you luncheon salad, or your dinner pasta or pizza. Better yet, some tomato juice for your Blood Mary. My favorite is a caprese salad, with fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, some basil, and lots of balsamic vinegar.