California dominates the commercial tomato industry, with 90 percent of the nation's tomato crop coming from the Golden State, where arid conditions mirror the tomato's original environment. During the off-season from October through April, Florida dominates the market, with Mexico now offering fierce competition. Florida production drops off as summer approaches; temperatures are too high for the tomato to thrive. On the East Coast, everyone raves about New Jersey tomatoes, which are indeed delicious yet make up a small percentage of national production. Find them in farm markets and specialty produce shops.
Calgene, Inc., a snappy young biotech firm in Davis, California, developed a controversial technique that adds time to a tomato's post-harvest life, thus allowing it to ripen on the vine and still make it to markets far from the field. Calgene's FlavrSavr or MacGregor tomato is the first genetically engineered product to be offered for sale, and two years after its approval by the FDA it is neither wildly popular nor widely distributed, as Calgene predicted.
Copyright 1996 by Michele Anna Jordan, author of The Good Cook's Book of Tomatoes. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.
Check out Michele Anna Jordan's latest book: The World Is a Kitchen: Cooking Your Way Through Culture
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