Publishers Weekly Weighs in on “Tomatoland.”



In this eye-opening exposé, Vermont journalist Estabrook traces the sad, tasteless life of the mass-produced tomato, from its chemical-saturated beginnings in south Florida to far-flung supermarkets. Expanding on his 2010 James Beard Award–winning article in Gourmet magazine, Estabrook first looks at the tomato’s ancestors in Peru, grown naturally in coastal deserts and Andean foothills, with fruit the size of large peas. Crossbreeding produced bigger, juicier varieties, and by the late 19th century, Florida had muscled in on the U.S. market, later benefiting from the embargo on Cuban tomatoes; the Sunshine State now produces one-third of the fresh tomatoes in this country. To combat sandy soil devoid of nutrients, and weather that breeds at least 27 insect species and 29 diseases that prey on the plants, Florida growers bombard tomato plants with a dizzying cocktail of herbicides and pesticides, then gas the “mature greens” (fruit plucked so early from the vines that they bounce without a scratch) with ethylene. Behind the scenes, moreover, there exists a horrendous culture of exploitation of Hispanic laborers in places like Immokalee, where pesticide exposure has led to birth defects and long-term medical ailments. Estabrook concludes this thought-provoking book with some ideas from innovators trying to build a better tomato. Link to

To be Published in June

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Review Copyright PWxyz, LLC

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  1. Rodney North says:

    About 15 years ago I was working alongside a co-founder of Equal Exchange, Michael Rozyne, who was looking into the various challenges that confronted family farms in the US, and that were also bedeviling the laborers, and the environment, and that were presenting us eaters with such lousy produce. And he found the tomato as the epitome of what was going wrong.
    So when he founded a new organization to work on all this he naturally called it “Red Tomato”. see
    I’m sure he’ll be glad to get his hands on “Tomatoland”.

  2. Shelley says:

    I hope you’ll be releasing a Kindle version of the book.

  3. Barry says:

    Hi, Shelley. The version for Kindle and other electronic readers will be available on June 7 or a little later–the “official” release date of the traditional paper book. My publisher, like most, tries to time releases so that all outlets (bricks and mortar, electronic, web) get it atccess at the same time. Thanks for asking. Barry.

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