The Next Best Thing: Does Jay Scott hold the future of decent store-bought tomatoes in his hands?

A cut above?                                                        Photograph: Bejo Seeds
A cut above? Photograph: Bejo Seeds

In supermarket tomatodom, this is the Holy Grail: a fruit thick-skinned enough to shrug off the insults of modern agribusiness, but still tender at heart and tasting like, well, a tomato. And John “Jay” Scott might have discovered it.

Scott is a horticulture professor and tomato breeder at the University of Florida’s Gulf Coast Research and Education  Center outside Tampa. For more than a decade, he has worked to perfect a tomato variety called Tasti-Lee. This spring, Tasti-Lee left the rarefied confines of academic test plots and rigorously monitored consumer-tasting panels to make its way in the competitive hurly-burly of Florida’s $619 million tomato industry. The state produces about half of the fresh tomatoes grown in the United States; between October and June, virtually all fresh, field-grown tomatoes come from Florida. The high-stakes business is littered with once-promising but now-forgotten tomato varieties.        Read the rest of the story in the Washington Post.

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