Tomatoes come in all kinds of shapes, colors, and sizes and contain an assortment of beneficial nutrients. They are a good source of fiber, containing around 1g of fiber per medium sized tomato . Tomatoes contain a compound known as lycopene, hypothesized to be helpful in mitigating cancer and cardiovascular disease risk . Lycopene is a carotenoid responsible for giving tomatoes their red color . Tomatoes are also rich in Vitamin C, an essential antioxidant, as well as Vitamin A, Vitamin K, potassium, manganese, and folate .
Did you know that tomatoes are part of a family of plants called nightshades? Originating from South and Central America, they actually had a bad reputation in early centuries due to their close resemblance to a deadly species . In 1692, a french botanist named Joseph Pitton de Tournefort reclassified tomatoes into a different genus, arguing that they contained more inner divisions than their deadly counterparts . Fast forward to the 1800s, Thomas Jefferson was known to grow tomatoes and use them in recipes such as gumbo. In present day, tomatoes are a staple of a balances American diet, possibly thanks to one of its “founding fathers” !
Today, tomatoes are the fourth most consumed vegetable in the United States, and the most commonly consumed canned vegetable .
At the farm, we use a method known as “companion planting”. Tomatoes and basil make wonderful companion plants, meaning they grow better when planted near each other. Luckily, not only do they grow well together, they go well together… like PB&J!
- Peak season for tomatoes is June through September.
- Choose tomatoes rich in color that are plump and firm with a little give and no wrinkles.
- Store tomatoes unwashed at room temperature but not in a plastic bag. Storing in a paper bag will speed up ripening. Ripe tomatoes will stay fresh for 3 days.
- Tomatoes should not go into the refrigerator as the temperature will give them a mealy texture.
 Canene-Adams, K., Campbell, J. K., Zaripheh, S., Jeffery, E. H., & Erdman, J. W. (2005). The Tomato As a Functional Food. The Journal of Nutrition, 135(5), 1226-1230. doi:10.1093/jn/135.5.1226 Story, E. N., Kopec, R. E., Schwartz, S. J., & Harris, G. K. (2010). An Update on the Health Effects of Tomato Lycopene. Annual Review of Food Science and Technology, 1(1), 189-210. doi:10.1146/annurev.food.102308.124120  Planet Nature Resource Center. (2017). History of Tomatoes. Retrieved from https://www.planetnatural.com/tomato-gardening-guru/history/