Heirloom Tomatoes

Okay, so there I am watching TV at my day job. I don’t have a choice about the TV being on and whatever the client is watching is what I am left to endure. Generally, this is cartoons. Needless to say, my attention was mostly elsewhere. Queue the commercials.

 

BrandywineTomato

 

Yeah, I am generally not a fan of these little marketing bundles. Done well, they can be interesting, funny or even manage to make me interested in the product. Such commercials are rare. Most just strike me as half truths and thinly veiled attempts to manipulate. Sure, they only exist because they want to manipulate you into buying something, but they could, at least, put more effort into it.

 

And then one commercial caught my attention. No, it wasn’t one of the good ones. It was one that caught on a peeve of mine. Thanks to a network full of pseudo chefs and a lot of lazy writing, this has become a common problem. The commercial in question was for one of those pre-packaged fresh foods companies that sell you on making dinners from scratch and then providing all of the ingredients at a large markup.

 

This commercial in particular was touting the greatness of heirloom tomatoes. I agree. Heirloom tomatoes often blow modern chem-ag tomatoes out of the water. Especially when raised in organic conditions. Unfortunately, they were using the term as if it was the end. There are thousands upon thousands of varieties of heirloom tomatoes.

 

Some varieties are sweet, some acidic, some perpetually green in flavor for frying. They might have smokey notes, fruity tones or lemony tangs. One will be a firm variety, another soft. This one is a great slicer, that one is perfect for pastes. Many have traits ideal for certain applications, but terrible for others. The point here is that saying you use heirloom tomatoes is like saying you spread something soft over your toast. Sure, it might be butter, but maybe it is margarine. Maybe it is cream cheese. Hell, that vague of a description might just be a heaping pile of manure.

 

Commercials, garbage chefs following trends and grocery stores alike throw the term heirloom tomato out as if that is all you need to know. Without giving, at least, some idea of the traits of the tomato, you haven’t told us anything except that the price tag is going to be higher. The heirloom tomatoes at the local grocery come in three varieties, all in the same bin. One is soft and acidic, one is firm and green and the last is a slightly sweet and mildly fruity tomato. Shoppers grab out of the bin as though everyone will serve their needs perfectly. Many aren’t even looking at the fruits, but simply seeing the heirloom tag and going with it.

 

For goodness sake, I wish this stupid trend of generic tomato statements would end. I don’t need the exact tomato name, but, at least, say if you need a heirloom to have a certain texture or basic flavor. Something great managed to become trendy. In so doing, it has been diminished. Since it wasn’t easily classified, they threw it all into one huge pool and left the shoper to fend for themselves. Is it any wonder people try something with heirloom tomatoes they saw on their morning cooking show and hate it? They probably bought a tomato that was nothing at all like the one used by the chef. Heck, the chef might have just lucked out. I get the distinct impression that TV personality chefs don’t really have a clue sometimes and really do just think all heirlooms are alike.

What are your thoughts?