By Mindy McIntosh-Shetter
Just the other day, I was asked why I raise so many tomatoes.
This past year, I simply raised 70 plants and to me that just was not enough to satisfy my hunger for the tomato (Love Apple).
But as I thought beyond the culinary delights that I could make with tomatoes, I discovered other reason why everyone should grow tomatoes.
1. They are delicious and have a culinary flexibility unmatched. Tomatoes are delicious eaten directly off the vine, juiced, canned, dried, and frozen. They are low in calories and high in vitamin C. Tomatoes are also showcased in many ethnic dishes along with American staples such as BLTs.
2. Tomatoes provide different forms of carateniods depending on color. This is another reason why individuals should grow tomatoes and not just ruby-red ones. While the red ones do contain the trans-lycopene form of carateniod, which is believed to reduce ones chances of developing prostate cancer. Other colors also provide health benefits. This includes the orange and/or orange yellow colored tomatoes. These particular colors contain the tetra-cis-lycopene form of carateniods. In a small study, it was found that this later form of lycopene provide additional health benefits.
3. Tomatoes help bone health. Not only do tomatoes provide cancer protection through their colors, they also aid in bone health. It is believed that the high antioxidant content of the tomato reduces bone loss and aids in the prevention of osteoporosis.
4. Tomatoes protect the heart. Tomatoes also contain other phytontrients, which include esculoisides, chalconaringenin, and 9-oxo-octadecadienoic. All of these nutrients work together to affect LDL, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels.
Overall the true reason to grow tomatoes is an individual choice. In my garden, I choose to grow tomatoes for their taste, ease of preserving, varieties to choose from, and nostalgia. Every garden season consists of new and present memories that are intertwined with the past.
This past consists of my dad and me planting rows of tomatoes, which would turn into not only a chore but a special time between us. I can still taste the sweetness of the first fruit of the season that my father and I shared. As I can testify, nothing is as sweet except the tomatoes I now share with my children.
So until we blog again, tomato gardeners unite in the dream that every garden will contain at least one tomato for the hearth, health, and well-being of the world. To aid in this calling, let me know why you grow tomatoes and the stories behind these reasons.