Not All Industrial Food Is Evil

I’VE long wondered how producing a decent ingredient, one that you can buy in any supermarket, really happens. Take canned tomatoes, of which I probably use 100 pounds a year. It costs $2 to $3 a pound to buy hard, tasteless, “fresh” plum tomatoes, but only half that for almost two pounds of canned tomatoes that taste much better. How is that possible?

The answer lies in a process that is almost unimaginable in scope without seeing it firsthand. So, fearing the worst — because we all “know” that organic farming is “good” and industrial farming is “bad” — I headed to the Sacramento Valley in California to see a big tomato operation.

Read the rest of this column, here.

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  1. Carter Wilson said...

    Students of mine at UC Santa Cruz who worked on the tomato harvesters said that you often saw the worst kind of wildlife death coming along the belt…rabbits strangled in tomato vines and cut up by the scooping forks, dead birds, birdsnests with broken eggs in them, etc. Why doesn’t Mr. Bittman mention this factor in industrialized tomato picking?

  2. Rob Dickson said...

    Mark, I really enjoy and appreciate your columns. One issue needs to be raised about “industrial food,” as it needs to be raised about any activity or transactions that creates costs to others, and to society as a whole. A simple principle good parents teach us – you must be responsible for your own actions. If folks want to grow and consume industrial food, fine. What’s the cost to the rest of us in terms of pollution from growing it, containerizing it, and shipping it? That should be included in the price, from farmer, to middlemen, to consumers. Same with driving. Same with flying. Same with manufacturers of every kind. And so on. If we want fewer toxins in our world, we must tax them. It’s fair and it’s efficient. Thank you, Rob Dickson ABQ NM

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