Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit

Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit

Title:Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:240 pages

Based on a James Beard award-winning article from a leading voice on the politics of agribusiness, Tomatoland combines history, legend, passion for taste, and investigative reporting on modern agribusiness and environmental issues into a revealing, controversial look at the tomato, the fruit we love so much that we eat $4 billion-worth annually.

2012 IACP Award Winner in the Food Matters category

Supermarket produce sections bulging with a year-round supply of perfectly round, bright red-orange tomatoes have become all but a national birthright. But in Tomatoland, which is based on his James Beard Award-winning article, "The Price of Tomatoes," investigative food journalist Barry Estabrook reveals the huge human and environmental cost of the $5 billion fresh tomato industry. Fields are sprayed with more than one hundred different herbicides and pesticides. Tomatoes are picked hard and green and artificially gassed until their skins acquire a marketable hue. Modern plant breeding has tripled yields, but has also produced fruits with dramatically reduced amounts of calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin C, and tomatoes that have fourteen times more sodium than the tomatoes our parents enjoyed. The relentless drive for low costs has fostered a thriving modern-day slave trade in the United States. How have we come to this point?   

Estabrook traces the supermarket tomato from its birthplace in the deserts of Peru to the impoverished town of Immokalee, Florida, a.k.a. the tomato capital of the United States. He visits the laboratories of seedsmen trying to develop varieties that can withstand the rigors of agribusiness and still taste like a garden tomato, and then moves on to commercial growers who operate on tens of thousands of acres, and eventually to a hillside field in Pennsylvania, where he meets an obsessed farmer who produces delectable tomatoes for the nation's top restaurants.

Throughout Tomatoland, Estabrook presents a who's who cast of characters in the tomato industry: the avuncular octogenarian whose conglomerate grows one out of every eight tomatoes eaten in the United States; the ex-Marine who heads the group that dictates the size, color, and shape of every tomato shipped out of Florida; the U.S. attorney who has doggedly prosecuted human traffickers for the past decade; and the Guatemalan peasant who came north to earn money for his parents' medical bills and found himself enslaved for two years.

Tomatoland reads like a suspenseful whodunit as well as an expose of today's agribusiness systems and the price we pay as a society when we take taste and thought out of our food purchases.

    Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit Reviews

  • Marvin

    If you only read one book about tomatoes in your lifetime make it this one.Thanks to investigative books and films like Fast Food Nation and Food, Inc., we have been exposed to the shady going-ons in ...

  • David

    This book is sort of a cross between The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals and The Grapes of Wrath. It is both a description of the tomato and how agri-business has transformed the t...

  • Simone

    Everyone. Go. Read. This. Book. Now, before you eat another bad tomato. "Any American who has eaten a winter tomato, either purchased at a supermarket or on top of a fast food salad, has eaten a fruit...

  • Linda

    “Tomatoland” is one of the very best investigative books I have read in many years. The topic is 21st Century slavery and related abuses in the tomato fields of Florida, in locations not far from ...

  • Dana

    Rarely, if ever, has a book made me this angry. I had no idea that today, here in the USA, in Florida, people are being held against their wills' as slaves, beaten, subjected to cancer causing and bir...

  • Gail

    I already know that after reading this book or before i even finish i will plant tomatoes in my yard and boycot supermarket tomatoes.(later)This was an eye-opening book and what the prediction I made ...

  • Sylvester

    Insanity!! I didn't read the entire title before diving into this book. So the first chapters were what I expected - interesting facts about what wild tomatoes are like and how they have been develope...

  • Adwoa

    Estabrook's Tomatoland offers an incredibly lucid and even-handed look at what is frequently a horrific industry in an unfair state - and for that, I commend him.As a writer and garden grower of tomat...

  • Sherri

    There are certain books that have changed my viewpoint and shopping habits; this is one of those books. At some point in my consciousness, I knew that tomato workers were treated poorly. I vaguely rec...

  • Louise

    This was an illuminating look into the modern day tomato business. I am going to be more careful about where and when I buy tomatoes from now on....