How science ruined tomatoes

By Clive Blazey, Founder of The Diggers Club

Hybrid tomato grown for long storage not flavour

If it doesn't go rotten it was never fresh! 

In this dystopian age of fake news the latest attack (reported in the New York Times) by a Florida plant breeder on the supermarket tomato is breathtaking in its hypocrisy.

Plant breeders have been deceiving us since the 1960s with picture perfect hybrid tomatoes that never ripen. We gardeners once joked about an heirloom tomato called Never Will (ripen) — never ever imagining that its genes would become the basis of the hybrid supermarket tomato that could bounce off the floor.

I was astounded when I found a multinational seed merchant's catalogue in the 1980s showing their latest hybrid tomato (pictured above) placed under a rock to illustrate, not its flavour or food value, but its extraordinary toughness.

The first Genetically Modified laboratory tomato was launched to much fanfare in 1994, brazenly called Flavr Savr, not because it passed any taste test, as its name indicated, but because it had a shelf life of more than 4 weeks. Shopper disgust was so fierce, its withdrawal was forced from shops before its first fruit could even go rotten.

So instead of wrinkling and ripening with age, as all good healthy food does, it was the ‘Hollywood ageless beauty’ version of food.

Deceived shoppers have awarded the supermarket tomato with “the highest dissatisfaction rating of any vegetable”.

The Diggers Club, which pioneered the rescue of heirloom tomatoes in Australia, have been conducting taste tests for over 20 years, and every year the supermarket tomato has always rated last, in every public test.

So since the original tomato, that we now call an heirloom tomato, has all the flavour that's missing from the multinational breeding, you might ask why do we need to breed these genes back from the original forms that all of us gardeners and farmers have been growing for more than hundreds of years?

Haven't these US scientists ever been outside their laboratories to a farmers’ market, an heirloom festival or a Californian restaurant?

Surely we just choose from the thousands of heirloom cultivars that evolved in the public domain, before hybrids became a device to wrest ownership and control from an unsuspecting consumer.

After all, heirlooms are part of our cultural history.

The original fruit that arrived in Europe from the Andes was Pomodoro, and it was yellow, but Italians selected out the yellow colour in favour of red tomatoes for pastes or salads, which launched a whole cuisine.

Can you imagine a pasta or pizza without tomatoes?

Now is there any reason that we need to take the lousy hybrid tomato and, like Cinderella, turn it into something desirable? Well, it’s that bottom-line again.

Heirloom tomatoes are part of the public domain and not owned by any corporations, so previously growers could choose from thousands of heirloom cultivars.

The switch to hybrid seed forced growers from saving their own seed, because hybrids in the second generation aren't true to type.

The price of hybrid seed escalated over 20 years of corporate control from about $500 a kilo to $450,000 a kilo for glass house production hybrids.

Let's get to the honest truth.

Not content with control, about 95 % of the tomato market multinationals are now competing with tiny seed companies, like ourselves, who have made inroads with vastly tastier heirlooms, because of shopper dissatisfaction.

Now there is no biological advantage in hybridising tomatoes because being a self-pollinating crop, there is no hybrid vigour, so falling multinational sales and profits are what's driving this bleat from laboratory scientists.

For thousands of years our food supply was ours, but with the advent of hybridisation and seed patenting from GE crops, corporate ownership sees just six companies control about 68% of our seed driven food supply.

Public domain tomatoes and other food crops (not Monsanto's or Syngenta's corporatised seeds) are a major contributor to our food heritage, our diet and our health.

Our food heritage and health is under threat when controlled by US multinational seed corporations because of their preference for processed food over fresh food, which has led to the disappearance of the local green grocer, the baker, and the butcher, as food has been corporatised, advertised and warehoused.

So today, for the first time in US history, Americans are facing a reduced lifespan.

Clive Blazey (10 Apr 2017)

Sign up for our email newsletter

FREE 2016 SEED Annual

Email info@diggers.com.au to request a free copy of our 2016 Seed Catalogue. Just remember to include your name and address. Help us preserve heirloom varieties by growing them in your garden. 

More

"Monsanto's Roundup weedkiller caused cancer"court says

By Clive Blazey, Founder of The Diggers Club

‘The Good Life’ … the birth of Diggers

By Clive Blazey, Founder of The Diggers Club

10 things to do in the garden this long weekend whilst everyone else is watching the Cup!

By The Diggers Team

Becoming a ‘hands-on’ gardener again

By Clive Blazey, Founder of The Diggers Club

Botanica Europe - French and English Garden Tour

By Talei Kenyon

Botanica New Zealand garden Tour

By Jill Woodlands

Fathers Day Competition Winners

By The Diggers Club

Free air conditioners in our gardens

By Clive Blazey, Founder of The Diggers Club

Grow a Garden - Your New Years resolution for 2017

By The Diggers Team

Grow Your Own From Seeds Corporates Don't Own

By Clive Blazey, Founder of The Diggers Club

Having someone else grow our food is going to kill us!

A century ago only about 10% of us had sedentary jobs but today that figure has risen to 90%.

How did your garden look this summer?

By Clive Blazey, Founder of The Diggers Club

Humus, humility and climate change

By Clive Blazey, Founder of The Diggers Club

In The Garden - Highlights at Cloudehill in December

By Jeremy Francis, Cloudehill's owner and creator.

In The Garden - Highlights at Cloudehill in November

By Jeremy Francis, Cloudehill's owner and creator.

In The Garden - Highlights at Heronswood in August

By Robyn Fox, Heronswood's Kitchen Gardener

In The Garden - Highlights at Heronswood in September

By Robyn Fox, Heronswood's Kitchen Gardener

In The Garden - Highlights at St Erth in April

By Tina Thanos, St Erth's kitchen gardener

In The Garden - Highlights at St Erth in August

By Tina Thanos, St Erth's kitchen gardener

In The Garden - Highlights at St Erth in May

By Tina Thanos, St Erth's kitchen gardener

In The Garden - Highlights at St Erth in September

By Tina Thanos, St Erth's kitchen gardener

Is gardening the secret to a long and healthy life?

By Clive Blazey, Founder of The Diggers Club

Is Gardens by the Bay in Singapore the world’s most interesting garden?

Is Gardens by the Bay in Singapore the world’s most interesting garden?

Let’s pretend we believe in climate change, but not at the expense of GDP

By Clive Blazey, Founder of The Diggers Club.

Monsanto’s DDT was banned in Australia in 1987. When will Monsanto’s Roundup be banned?

By Clive Blazey, Founder of The Diggers Club

Our gardening missteps

By Clive Blazey, Founder of The Diggers Club

Plants as Lovers

Many of us gardeners are obsessive plant compulsives – we can’t take our minds off them.

Should hydroponically grown food carry an ARTIFICIALLY GROWN label?

By Clive Blazey, Founder of The Diggers Club

Summer Gardens at Cloudehill

By Jeremy Francis, Owner and Creator of Cloudehill

Teach your children well

By Clive Blazey, Founder of The Diggers Club

Thanks for 40 years of valuable support for Diggers

By Clive Blazey, Founder of The Diggers Club

The best things in life are free

By Clive Blazey, Founder of The Diggers Club

The corporatisation of our food supply

By Clive Blazey, Founder of The Diggers Club

The potential collapse of organic gardening in Australia

By Clive Blazey, Founder of The Diggers Club

We have been fighting Monsanto for 20 years

By Clive Blazey, Founder of The Diggers Club

Welcome to the university for self-taught gardeners

We gardeners are a critical lot and are very hard to please.

WHAT’S ON - OCTOBER

WHAT’S ON – STAND OUT GARDEN EVENTS AROUND AUSTRALIA

Where does your gardening inspiration come from?

By Clive Blazey, Founder of The Diggers Club

Why a plant based diet leads to a longer, healthier life

By Clive Blazey, Founder of The Diggers Club

Why is it taking so long to revere our prehistoric rainforests from Gondwana times?

By Clive Blazey, Founder of The Diggers Club

Related Articles

Warrior for environmental change

Marcelle Swanson asks Joost Bakker about his philosophies for a sustainable future

Sharing an heirloom pea

When May Barnes sent in peas dating from 1853, grown by her family for generations, she knew they were worth sharing.

Creating the world we want, rather than fighting the world we reject

David Holmgren recalls his first meeting with Bill Mollison
Back To Top
Member Exclusives
KNEELER MOSS COLOUR
KNEELER MOSS COLOUR
HARDWARE: HDKK
A cushion kneeler made with memory foam and covered with a washable material. Lightweight and easy to carry, the generous size and contouring allows you to work in cushioned comfort in the garden for prolonged periods.
Member $25.00
Checking stock, please wait..
Verbena bonariensis & Fountain Grass Duo
Verbena bonariensis & Fountain Grass Duo
PLANTS: PSD7
Two beautiful perennials for the back of the border, Chinese fountain grassadds height and architecture while the Verbena bonariensis adds colour and is a good match with almost any perennial. 3 pots of each.
Member $36.95
Checking stock, please wait..
2 YEAR MEMBERSHIP AND FREE VEGIE SEEDS
2 YEAR MEMBERSHIP AND FREE VEGIE SEEDS
Membership: MNE2VS
Join The Diggers Club for 2 years for $79, just $39.50 per year and you'll receive a FREE Vegetable Seed Collection which includes 1 packet each of Beetroot Chioggia, Tomato Tommy Toe, Cucumber Double Yield and Zucchini Black Beauty (not available with any other renewal offer). The normal price for this collection is $23.75. You'll also receive ...
Member $79.00
Non-Member $79.00
Checking stock, please wait..