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Tracing tomatoes

July 21, 2011
By Stephanie Bethke-DeJaeghere , Marshall Independent

The Tomato history has origins traced back to the early Aztecs around 700 A.D; therefore it is believed that the tomato is native to the Americas. It was not until around the 16th century that Europeans were introduced to this fruit when the early explorers set sail to discover new lands.

What changed in the 1800s? First, and most significantly, was the mass immigration from Europe to America and the traditional blending of cultures. Many Italian-Americans ate tomatoes and brought that food with them. It was not regarded as a kitchen vegetable until the times preceding the Civil War period in the United States.

From this point forward, tomatoes have become a staple item in the kitchen throughout the world. Each area of the world has its own tomato history and how it is used in everyday dining. It appears though that tomatoes have had the largest impact on American eating habits, as they are responsible for enjoying over 12 million tons of tomatoes each year.

At this time of the year, gardeners everywhere are either wondering what is taking so long for their tomatoes to ripen or they are asking their neighbors for a juicy red tomato to enjoy on their sandwiches especially BLTs.

The intense weather we all experienced over the 4th of July brought some of our tomato plants to a quick and short end while others are out there recovering and will do just fine.

Blight will continue to be a problem particularly with all of this hot, humid weather. It is difficult to keep it under control and it is important to keep up with treatment or at the very least, removing some of the more infected leaves from the plant, disposing them in a place away from the vegetable garden.

If you are experiencing blight on your tomatoes, this is also a good time to sit down with paper and pencil, then write down the varieties that you currently have in the garden, then tuck that paper away somewhere until next year. If you write down which varieties have blight on them, then next year choose a different variety that is resistant. This will help out to a much higher degree then trying to treat for blight after the fact.

An interesting aspect of tomato history is the classic debate: Is the tomato a fruit or vegetable?

When it is all said and done, the history of the tomato has it classified as a poisonous beautiful plant, a tax-avoiding fruit, and a taxable vegetable.

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