The book is Tomatoland by Barry Estabrook....I know, I know - a book about tomatoes. Well, I started it last evening and could not put it down. It is not so much about tomatoes as it is about growing tomatoes.
Somewhere Erin Brokovich and Norma Rae are wondering why the palms of their hands are itching........this is a book about the injustice of much of today's agribusiness. The horrible treatment of the migrant workers and the slavery they live. It is beautifully written. Not flowery beautiful - you just are drawn through each paragraph to the next. All I could think of since Oprah's last show was yesterday - who is going to bring this book to the masses?
Charlie Rick, Alexander Livingston, and John Warner Scott are names you have never heard. They are the Babe Ruth's of tomato genetics and tomato history. Who knew? What would possess you to spend a part of their life in South America collecting tomato seeds? I don't even like dirty hands and yet, I wanted to be with them in those fields.
Then, of course, we have our heroes....Tom Beddard of Lady Moon Farms in Florida who is good and fair and smart. He grows tomatoes that taste good! What a novel idea for Florida growers. We have Tim Stark who makes that trek from his nearly organic farm in Pennsylvania across Rt 78 to the Union Square Growers market. Stark is a farmer and business man who sells off tons of wonderful tomatoes to the people of New York City and the restaurants that have discovered him......
Now, somehow, I do not understand how Mr Estabrook could write a book about tomatoes and not have included the famous Jersey Tomato. My whole life, Ruth (my Mother) has proclaimed their perfection of taste and beauty. The sandy soil, she says, is the secret.
This book is worth every minute you will spend reading it. Imagine how you will impress everyone at this summer's BBQ with your vast tomato knowledge!