Tomatoes in the News

Facts About Tomatoes

How do tomatoes survive transport?
If you have ever seen a load of tomatoes rolling down the freeways of central California filled to the brim, you may have wondered what keeps them from smashing themselves. These tomatoes have been selectively bred for over 50 years to be quite different from the tomato you would buy in the store. One of the qualities they have is a much thicker skin than fresh tomatoes, it is this property that allows them to survive the weight of 25,000 pounds of tomatoes without suffering much damage.

What are the differences between store tomatoes and processed tomatoes?
There are an incredible amount of differences between store bought tomatoes and tomatoes that are processed for canning and sauces. One of the first and most important is that processed tomatoes are picked ripe and red. In contrast, fresh market tomatoes are picked green and some of the fresh tomatoes are gassed with the fruits own natural ripening hormone called ethylene to promote consistent ripening. The second is that processed tomatoes are used immediately, from the moment of picking less than 6 hours pass until the tomato is in the can. Third, processing tomatoes are completely machine harvested, the only humans needed are for picking out stray vines and any rare tomatoes that are moldy or crushed.

How much does a tomato truck hold?
A typical tomato truck holds 50,000 pounds of tomatoes, which is about 300,000 tomatoes. (6 X 50,000)

Why are tomato trucks uncovered?
Time. During the height of the season, California tomato growers are producing 2,000,000,000 pounds of tomatoes per week! To put that in perspective that is 40,000 tomato trucks each carrying 300,000 tomatoes. The other main reason is that since tomato harvest is in the summer covering the trucks could result in the tomatoes being damaged by the trapped heat.

Are tomatoes fruits or vegetables?
The answer to this question is an interesting bit of tomato trivia. Technically a tomato is a fruit, since it is the ripened ovary of a plant. But in 1893 the supreme court ruled in the case of "NIX v. HEDDEN" tomatoes were to be considered vegetables. If you find this hard to believe here is a link to take you to the court ruling:NIX v. HEDDEN, 149 U.S. 304 (1893).