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September 18, 2006

Gremolata interview with Thomas Pawlick

This man is my new hero. Now Chapters, please, hurry up and ship my book!!!

I’ve been talking a lot about organic and home-grown fruits (“eff arr double o tee”) and vegetables. I’ve noted that I’m doing my grad project on it. In doing some research today, trying desperately to find some blogs on related topics, I came across this interview at Gremolata with Canadian Thomas Pawlick, author of The End of Food: How the Food Industry Is Destroying Our Food Supply — And What You can Do about It.

Here’s an excerpt…

G: So then what happened to the tomato?

TP: Well, a whole bunch of things. It’s the choice of tomato variety. It’s the method by which they raise it. The time that they harvest it at. And its treatment after harvest. All of these tings leech nutrients and taste out of the tomato.

G: Which you would think would be the two big factors.

TP: Well, yeah. They should be. I talked to a whole bunch of growers and agronomists at the University of California and asked them what are the top qualities you’re looking for in a variety. They would list them for me and not on any of those lists did nutrition or flavour pop-up. And I would ask them, over and over again, “are you sure you’re not leaving anything out?” Nope.

What they did tell me is that the most important thing is the thickness of the skin. It’s got to be thick enough so that when it’s bouncing around in the back of a truck for a thousand miles, it doesn’t smush. That’s why my little tomato bounced off the side of my fence. We pick varieties that have good strong, rubbery carapace walls.

And then it’s also supposed to be uniform in size and uniform in colour. And all ripen at exactly the same time.

So, they’re not looking for a tomato that going to make you feel good, or that’s going to make you healthy.

I had a home-grown tomato in my lunch the other day, and said to a friend, “this is why I’m doing my grad project: this is what a real tomato looks like, and this is what a real tomato tastes like. *chomp* mmmm!!” We all enjoy good food, but I don’t enjoy flavourless produce. What’s the point of eating if it’s a) not fulfilling your body’s basic needs, and b) not making you feel good?