Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Why supermarket tomatoes taste flat

It's not because Florida tomato growers can't produce good-tasting tomatoes.

Art Carden explains:
Florida tomato grower Joe Procacci came up with a tomato that tasted great and could be produced economically. After intervention by the Florida Tomato Commission, however, Procacci was barred from selling his tomatoes to willing buyers.
After a decade of experimenting with Heirloom tomatoes, Procacci developed what he called the UglyRipe tomato, which the Florida Tomato Commission barred from export because it didn't meet its standards for roundness.

Gary Galles wrote in 2005:
In effect, the government has delegated [the FTC] the power to criminalize selling fruit other growers deem unfit to sell or selling it in ways they don’t approve of, even when buyers, fully in­formed about any shortcomings, would be eager customers. (Procacci had to turn away out-of-state buyers and take about $3 million in losses when denied an exemption from the roundness rules in January [2005].)
Whatever this is, it's not the free market at work. The FTC apparently wanted to protect the reputation of the state's tomato growers by limiting export to lousy-tasting tomatoes that were round.

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