Jim Good's Reviews > Ripe: The Search for the Perfect Tomato

Ripe by Arthur Allen
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's review
Jun 17, 10

bookshelves: diet, history, non-fiction, sociology
Read from June 10 to 15, 2010

Ripe deals primarily with the history of the tomato market in the US and Italy with a small detour into China. Lightly covers the economics from agriculture through processing and touches on the genetic development of the plant itself. Allen tends to meander through his narrative and never gets too deep into the science of agriculture, the engineering of processing, nor the world economics of the tomato market, leaving me unsatisfied on all three fronts.

The book is most interesting as a counterpoint to the organic movement (though that may be specific to the tomato industry?) and a commentary on western diets where taste is a third consideration behind productivity and appearance.

In discussing the development of tomato breeds Jack Hanna, a UC Davis professor in the Department of Vegetable Crops said “The blander a food tastes, the more of it people want to eat.” While Allen only takes a few paragraphs to dig into the implications, I thought it was the most profound statement of the book and could easily be explored within the context of both food processing and it’s net effect on caloric intake. Maybe that’s another more interesting book, though.
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