Third Week October 2008

M job and life are one and the same. Everything seems to revolve around food in some way, shape, form-I am either dining somewhere unique, or picking tomatoes from my balcony herb and vegetable garden, or doing something analytical in my lab related to food.

This summer I grew tomatoes. With seeds that I obtained during the California tomato festival in Monterey, CA-I grew 3 or 4 different types of heirlooms which grew in all of the gorgeous shades of heirloom colors that they typically grow in. I grew just enough for myself and partner and didn’t spend a dime on the processed tasting perfectly shaped Romas that have little flavor and are kind of on the hard side!

My favorite of all the tomatoes were tiny reddish green cherry ones. They took quite a while to grow but even now, as we approach the slightly chilled evenings of northern california fall, they are producing a mini crop every day. I love going out before I leave for work, picking a few and eating them for breakfast. I may not grow enough to eat more then a serving every few days but what they loose in quantity they make up for in full fresh flavor.

I never really felt connected to tomatoes, my job involves working with tomato paste and diced that has already been heat treated and sterilized by one of the many large tomato manufacturing facilities in the Los Banos area of California . This all changed when a few weeks ago I was invited to join a group of writers on a “Tomato Field Tour”. We started the day visiting the Romero Visitor center at the San Luis Reservoir-learning about how the water draught is affecting our tomato stash.. which in turn means less tomatoes, higher prices and ultimately, more expensive Pizza! We ended the day with a tour of my very own manufacturing plant in Los Banos, CA. Going through the life cycle of a tomato from seed all the way through the canning helped me see “the big pix”-and I took extra special care of my tiny garden heirloom collection, making sure to water them two times a day during the heat wave.

Tomatoes need a ton of water-I had to lug out 5 gallons a day to feed them!


The detailed tomato tour story can be found here

About rachel zemser