Tomatoland by Barry Estabrook


Tomatoland is a book written by Barry Estabrook. Barry is a food writer who writes on many matters related to food. Just like many other authors, Barry has written an interesting book that most people admire reading. It has an important message to the farmers, consumers and all individuals in general. The author relates his book with the ecology and how modern industrial farming has destroyed tomato – an important fruit consumed by many people. He has organized his writing well with understandable vocabulary that each person may be able to understand his argument. He uses specific themes to drive home his message about the changes in taste and value that are brought about by modern industrial farming. The themes portray how modernization has affected the ecology and the nature of human environment. The essay will discuss some of the themes that this author wants to pass to his readers. The paper will discuss the theme of marketing and yield production in the tomato field.


Unlike in the past, modern technology has changed the way in which many fruits, just to mention but a few, are produced. Technology in the field of agriculture has brought both positive and negative effects to agriculture and to the ecology. Modern industrialized methods have emerged from the change in technology that has made farming easy. In gone days, people used to toil hard in their farms with the use of traditional means of farming that at times resulted in failing of yields. Technology has changed and there are developed means of farming that are being used in many countries today. The modern industrialized methods have reduced labor to farmers and have resulted in the production of a large amount of yields. Nevertheless, these modern industrialized methods have changed the taste of the past produced fruits, vegetables and other foodstuffs. What was used in gone days has stopped to be utilized by farmers and thus a change in taste has happened. Tomato is not an exceptional to this challenge since it has also lacked flavor. Introduction of many farming methods all in the aims at increasing marketing, and yields have also contributed to this factor.

Barry in his book talks about how modern industrialized methods of farming have changed the good taste that used to be in tomatoes. He states that mass produced tomatoes today in the supermarkets lack flavor since they are bred for enduring long journeys to the supermarkets and not for the purposes of taste. Many farmers today are using all means possible to ensure that their tomato products can endure long journeys in the process of marketing them before getting destroyed. However, in the process of maximizing production, they do not care about the harm their efforts can cause to the environment. It has been brought about by modern industrialized methods of farming. Farmers are interested in getting good sales for their tomatoes but not on the basis of how the tomatoes will taste. Barry in his book uses a Florida farmer who says, “I get paid for weight not taste and supermarket shoppers do not taste the tomatoes before placing them in their selling carts”. It portrays how farmers have no value for the taste of the tomato but aim to sell their products and get paid. Changes in environment, taste or nutritional value do not bother the farmers. The desire for increase in sales and yields has resulted in lack of interest to the tomato production thus resulting in the lack of flavor.

Barry argues that most of the tomatoes that people go for in the market come from Florida. He states that the place is not a good place to grow the crop. He also argues that most of the tomatoes are grown in sand that holds few organic materials and nutrients to support the growth of the crop. As a result of this, the tomatoes sold in the market today lack some of the important nutrients that are needed for the taste of the tomato. Moreover, he states that Florida’s humidity propagates large populations of insects. Because of this reason, farmers that grow this crop need to use chemical pesticides on a weekly basis to combat the breeding of these insects. Use of chemical pesticides will ensure that the tomatoes are not damaged by the insects and that the yield of the crop will not be affected. However, the environment is affected by the chemicals. Use of pesticides increases yields production of the crop thus increasing marketing. Continuous use of chemical products is harmful to the crops and the environment. Chemical pesticides kill some of the important nutrients needed for the good taste of tomato. It also destroys some important organic minerals in the soil that are needed for the good taste of the crop. For this reason, despite high production of the crop, the tomato tends to have no flavor in it because of the lack of some important nutrients.

Estabrook states that in places like Florida farmers claim that they must use these chemicals to get yields in their crops. It is because the soils in which the farmers from this area practice farming are not suitable for the horticulture of this crop. Florida contains pure sand soil which must be watered regularly and chemical pesticides must be applied to ensure the growth of tomatoes. In addition, because of the weather in this state, insects and diseases causing organisms do not die so easily. The climate is not suitable for the crop and sometimes even for the residents of the area. For this reason, Florida farmers would use any power to ensure their crops do not get destroyed even if it means continuous use of chemical pesticides. The continuous use of pesticides causes harm to the environment, as well as the residents, because chemical pesticides are not healthy for human consumption. Florida being among the best countries that produce tomatoes faces many challenges. Barry argues that it is because of these challenges that Florida farmers encounter what make them use modern industrialized methods to maintain their yields. As a result, tomato flavor is destroyed but the yields and market of the crop is maintained.

Excessive use of fertilizers is a costly waste to farmers and it pollutes lake waters, rivers, and groundwater that feed many environmental organisms. Many farmers use excess fertilizers so as to maximize yield production. Nevertheless, the excessive use of fertilizers leaves little surplus of potassium and nitrogen to the soil. It makes many crops grow healthy but with little nutrients required. Tomatoes are not exceptional. According to Barry, the ways in which tomatoes are grown and the fields in which they grow makes it hard for them to retain their taste. It is enough proof to explain how modern industrialized agriculture has interfered with the ecology. It proofs that effects of technology to the environment are sometimes negative. Many farmers grow tomatoes on the basis of yields and marketing but not on the basis of taste.


In conclusion, modern technology such as industrial farming is important in human life. It makes work easier and increases production. As a result, they promote market and farmers development. However, modern technology that involves industrial farming leaves a negative effect on the environment. In relation, the changes to the environment affect the taste and nutritional value of some fruits such as tomatoes. It is important to consider the nutritional value and taste of all agricultural products. It can be acquired through safeguarding the environment and farming within the favorite environmental and climatic conditions.

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