Valley Bounty: Tomatoes

Few foods besides the tomato can claim the distinction of having been at the center of a Supreme Court decision; in the 1893 case Nix v Hedden, the Court was asked to decide whether tomatoes were subject to the protectionist ‘Tariff Act of 1883’, which imposed steep tariffs on all imported vegetables but exempted imported fruits. In a unanimous decision (which are more common than we often hear), the Court ruled that, despite the botanical classification of tomatoes as a fruit, they are a vegetable in the “common language of the people” and should be considered a vegetable for trade purposes because they are “usually served at dinner in, with, or after the soup, fish, or meat … and not, like fruits generally, as dessert.”

People often use tomatoes as an example of a food that tastes drastically better when it’s local than when it has traveled a long distance, and for good reason. One of the great local food joys of the summer is enjoying some freshly picked heirloom tomatoes in a salad or simply sliced with some salt, pepper, and basil. There are also many great in-depth guides online if you’re interested in preserving some local tomatoes to get you through until tomato season comes again next year.

Valley Bounty is written by Brian Snell of CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture)