Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A Concentration of Wealth in Tomatoes

From Ethicurean [senility approaches, corrected from "Epicurean" to "Ethicurean"], a piece on concentration in growing tomatoes. A portion:
Before World War II, there were commercial growers and canners in many states — including Delaware, Virginia, Utah, New Jersey and New York — and California produced only 20% of the nation’s tomatoes. Thanks to the development of both mechanical harvesting equipment and tomato varieties that can be picked by machine, the number rose to 50% in 1953, and reached 95% in 2007. (The 20% and 50% figures are from the “Oxford Companion to American Food,” the 95% figure is from the Chronicle.) There are several reasons for California’s dominance in the processed tomato business, with the biggest one being a climate that allows a far longer harvest period (90 days vs. 45 days) and is less hospitable to disease because of its low humidity and lack of summer rain.

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