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Jun 29, 2012 03:31 PM

Tomatoes Don't Taste As Good As In Years Past? Here's Why

A chance gene mutation that was then "deliberately bred into almost all tomatoes to [make] them [ripen] a uniform luscious scarlet" also disables genes involved in ripening. Tomatoes may be brilliantly red but have less flavor as a result.

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  1. This is why so many local farmers grow heirloom varieties. I have no problem buying luscious tomatoes, in season.

    1. I shudder when I see a trailer of green tomatoes heading to one of the packing plants in Manatee County, FL where I sometimes live. You could drive nails with them. Someone once lamented about the woeful state of our tomatoes and the inability to manufacture an automobile bumper that can survive a 5 mph crash without damage, and suggested that America should start driving its tomatoes.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Veggo

        Good one! The only tomatoes I buy off-season are itty-bitty grape toms from California. They actually taste like tomatoes.

      2. I thought that article belonged here too. NPR also covered the story - it's an easy listen:

        Personally, I'm overjoyed watching the first fruit on my plants coming to full size. Now I just have to wait until only the shoulders are green.

        1. Just saw this story in the LA Times.

          At some point, long before any specific genetic mutation was identified, someone must have surely noticed that flavor was being sacrificed for color. Why didn't they pull back and try to identify alternative breedlines to pursue?

          It makes you wonder what tomatoes have the moguls who have been breeding these horrible tomatoids been eating themselves? Do they eat the same tomatoes that are foisted on the public? Or have they always enjoyed the good old-fashioned stuff?

          1. Very old news. This has been true for years.

            3 Replies
            1. re: PommeDeGuerre

              Yes, of course. The scientific reason is the news.

              1. re: maria lorraine

                The exact gene is news. People knew that the lack of flavor came from genetic manipulations for added durability and improved color 50 years ago.

                1. re: PommeDeGuerre

                  The most common understanding for the fall-off in flavor, in my neck of the woods, is that tomatoes were picked green, shipped long distances, and then gassed in the same huge ethylene chambers used to ripen bananas.

                  I agree that the fall-off in flavor in storebought tomatoes has been around a long while.