Vikki's Reviews > Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit

Tomatoland by Barry Estabrook
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's review
Jul 19, 12

bookshelves: 2012-reads
Read from July 13 to 19, 2012

i've read most of the big foodie books, but i was interested in this one for a couple of reasons. i write about food, so i feel like it's research to stay on top of the literature, but i also love food and love tomatoes, and i wanted to learn more about why the tomatoes you buy at the store are so bad. right now it's peak tomato season in virginia; i brought in ten pounds from my garden the other day, and the tomatoes i ate for dinner tonight are so unlike the tomatoes you buy at the grocery store as to be not even from the same planet. this book was a revelation, albeit an occasionally tedious, occasionally confusing one. i was relieved to learn, by the end of the book, that conditions for tomato pickers have changed considerably in recent years, and while there's still work to be done, things are a lot better than they were even a decade ago. what hasn't changed much, unfortunately, is the mind-boggling amount of chemical additives that are used to grow these tomatoes, or the damage this does to the environment and the people who work with the fruits. the chronology of the story is a bit jumbled at times, and certain details tended to blend together, but overall i found this book fascinating and instructive, and encouraging on at least one score: there is still a place for labor organizing in this country, and even if the coalition of immokalee workers isn't a union per se, it was collective bargaining by the workers themselves that brought about the changes from which they now benefit. let's hope their efforts will continue to succeed, and bring about further much needed change.

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