Home Grown... ISN'T Necessarily Home Grown

If you don't believe that statement, look around you in the winter time and see how many times you see this term used by grocery stores. I guess if you really think about it, all produce is grown at SOMEONE'S home but people think of it as meaning LOCAL. Yep, and the produce industry knows that so they take advantage of it, knowing that many people will not really think about it but will automatically take it for granted and buy the product.

Advertising is a tricky business. They spend thousands of dollars to do studies and surveys to find out just how to get into your brain and make you think they way they want you to think. What people need to do is to take just a minute to THINK about what they are buying. If it makes a claim like "BIGGER, BETTER, BRIGHTER!" maybe you should start asking, "As compared to what?" Or, "In what way?"

When they say something is Home Grown in the middle of the winter maybe you should go ask the produce manager how that can be if it is from Florida, Arizona or California and you live here in Kentucky. It IS possible that it is greenhouse grown but that still isn't what most people think of when they hear Home Grown. They think of tomatoes grown on Uncle Bob's farm in the sunshine, not from a greenhouse. That's not to say that, if grown properly, tomatoes are not good from a greenhouse because I know they can be but it isn't what the word implies to the typical consumer. They want field grown summertime tomatoes.

Vine Ripe?

While we're at it, Vine Ripened doesn't necessarily mean that either. In the Florida rules for classifying tomatoes for market it states that they can be called "Vine Ripe" when the blossom end has a pink star where the tomato is starting to turn red. Notice how green the tomatoes are packed in the boxes at left. At this point, it can be picked, packed and sprayed with a gas that makes it turn red but not RIPE. It just LOOKS ripe. Basically, what you will have when it reaches your store is a green tomato that looks ripe but isn't. That's why they have no taste. That's why they are hard as rocks. That's why they never get ripe because if a tomato is picked before the jelly forms over the seeds it won't ripen on it's own. It will rot before it gets ripe although a gassed tomato seems to last forever. You could fry them, they would look strange but they would fry up nice.

Vine Ripe?

I found an article about tomatoes by Patricia Unterman. In it she says, "Last June, before the local tomatoes were anywhere near ready, I watched a case of hard, green, "vine ripe" tomatoes turn pink, then pale red over the course of a week on my kitchen counter. During the transformation, they developed no soft spots, no blemishes. At full "ripeness" they were amazingly firm--that was week three-and even during the fourth week they exhibited no sign of decomposition. I think they could have lasted all summer right there on my counter." She is talking here of a tomato grown in California. It was a variety that is grown for endurance and looks, not taste. She goes on to say, "these tomatoes are bred for appearance and durability, not taste, and are harvested for successful shipping." They are what I call shipping tomatoes.

There's more to growing tomatoes than you think. If you want to grow pretty, durable "shippers" there are many varieties to choose from. Then there are the ones that look awful but taste so good you can't stop eating them. The trick is to find tomatoes that not only taste fantastic but will look nice, too. They don't need to ship if they are local so a softer tomato is ok and it is usually the softer types that taste great.

A better thing to look for is "Locally Grown," or "Kentucky Grown." There's no doubt in your mind where it came from then. But it wouldn't surprise me if they picked up on that, though, and start calling produce from far away "Local."

Be a smart shopper. Look for all these little ways that advertisers use to throw you off. Ask questions. That's one of the good things about a farmers' market, you can talk to the person who grows most of the produce you will find there. I can tell you the names of all the things I grow. And you will never see the words home grown on my produce. I use "locally grown" or "Kentucky grown" or "Grown by Bill and Pat."

Better produce because it is fresh. Fresher because it is local.
Barren County Regional Farmers' Market -
specializing in Kentucky Grown Produce!

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