Related: Social Issues

Killer Tomatoes


tomato_large.jpgHow much more bad news can the nation take?

Floods, tornadoes, gas prices. Harrison Ford raiding again. Jim McKay is gone. So’s Dick Martin. No more entertaining news from the primary elections. Mars lander having a hard time scooping dirt.

Now, killer tomatoes.

Just in time for the greatest pleasure of summer — a luscious, drippy tomato sandwich with lots of Hellman’s on Wonder Bread — tomatoes have been condemned. Banished. Sent to Spinach Limbo, the place where contaminated vegetables (ok, maybe they’re fruits, let’s not argue, it’s too hot) must sit out the season pending FDA approval. (This just in: Florida tomatoes are safe.)

Seriously, outbreaks of salmonella poisoning linked to raw tomatoes have caused illnesses and at least one death. As with last year’s bout with e-coli infected spinach, I suspect that the culprit will prove to be some form of mechanically-induced infection, the result of modern growing and production methods that make it more likely that food is compromised somewhere along the chain. There’s no final report on the cause yet, so this is just speculation, but something this widespread is unlikely to be natural.

What’s the solution? “Safe Tomato” advice is already blooming all over the Internet. I have a better idea: grow your own. Nothing is more satisfying than plucking a ripe tomato from your own backyard vines. Perhaps the ongoing food catastrophes, combined with the impact of high fuel prices on produce, will drive all of us back to the soil, at least some little patch out back or container on the porch. Yum.

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Patricia A. McGuire, President, Trinity, 125 Michigan Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20017
Phone: 202.884.9050   Email: