Due to the combo of agribusiness, foreign imports and megamart distribution practices I've come to expect 49 weeks of consistently mediocre tomatoes in the market, even here in California.
However this year appears to be different. After two or three weeks of better, cheaper (presumably more local) tomatoes, prices have more than doubled *instantly* everyplace and the quality is consistently and astonishingly BAD everyplace!
What is going on? Did someone empty or manipulate the pipeline?
The weather's gotten colder.
On the other hand, I just came home from the farmers market and ate a couple of perfect tomatoes.
I too wait all year for that wonderful month of August (I'm in the mid atlantic) when I can eat delicious tomatoes everyday at every meal. It has been a BAD year for tomatoes. The ones I've gotten at the store have never been good and at the farm stand it was hard to find any that were ripe. Had some sucess with the home grown but not until Sept. I guess I am stuck waiting 'til next summer and hoping that whatever kept the good tomatoes away this year doesn't show up again next year.
Well, from growing our own, I can tell you - short and intense tomatoes for us - a glut of beautiful red ripe ones btw July and August and nothing to speak of sicne then. Must be the weather, feh.
Most conventional supplies come from Mexico and Guatemala. IN the summer that region experienced massive heat waves, tomatoes were cut early from the vine to prevent overripening and actual "cooking" in the fields. Once the heat waves ceased the region got pounded by Hurricanes.
The wholesale/restaurant industry is really feeling it in the wallet, prices are 150% more than normal levels this time of year.
Of course, short supply, poor quality and high demand are not good ingredients for the end user.
WE are hoping to see a drop in pricing in 3 weeks.
I cannot speak for locally grown, regional tomatoes.
Thanks for the background, veggietales!
Another supply I forgot to mention are the 'ripe-on-the-vine' tomatoes from the Netherlands - these have also gotten scarse. Their supply IIRC is grown in (mostly?) controlled indoor environments thus assuring a year round supply. They sure must be doing something right in order to supply competitive quality and price.
Right now, of course due to supply/demand, Netherlands tomatoes are also priced higher. Those beautiful yellow, orange and red bell peppers are doing OK, though.
The West Coast had the 100 plus degree weather at the same time as the East Coast had lots of rain and even hurricanes in Florida. The tomatoes that should have been ready for harvest/ shipping now don't exist. New Jersey is out of a lot of produce, Florida's not that much better and now the next harvest should be Arizona/Mexico which got some hurricanes too. After that, South America, I wonder how they're doing weather-wise! And of course this will affect the price of canned tomatoes in the coming months.