The Death Of Tomatoes, Sewage Lagoon Shrimp And Other Scary Food Stories

You may not think that tomatoes are terribly newsworthy. But there they were, featured on Fresh Air yesterday, the center of a must-hear interview with the investigative food reporter Barry Estabrook. In his new book, Tomatoland, he writes about the 15 or so mysterious ingredients needed to breed a tomato that tastes (almost) like it was plucked from a backyard garden in August, but he also details changes in the agriculture industry that have basically killed “our most alluring fruit.”

For instance, he tells Terry Gross: “My mother, in the ’60s could buy a tomato in the supermarket that had 30 to 40 percent more vitamin C and way more niacin and calcium. The only area that the modern industrial tomato beats its Kennedy-administration counterpart is in sodium.”

Beyond nutritional content, Estabrook provides hair-raising details about the working conditions on tomato farms: Continue reading