Ten Tomatoes that Changed the World

Grand Central. Jun. 2022. 320p. ISBN 9781538753323. $27. HIST
Alexander ($64 Tomato) has returned to his “roots” to further investigate this ubiquitous fruit/vegetable. In ten chapters, he takes readers from initial specimens deemed poisonous curiosities during the Renaissance to the giant commercial farms in Immokalee, FL to the improbable 100-acre greenhouses growing hydroponic tomatoes year-round in Canada and Michigan. In the process, he also touches on the history of pizza, early canning technology, the development of GMOs, climate change, agricultural labor relations, and much more. Written in a lighthearted style, this engaging book includes historical photos and illustrations, and is packed with fascinating factoids. This is the type of book where readers will find themselves spouting historical tidbits to everyone in their orbit. Two examples: in the 1930’s plants were often 15 feet tall and needed to be tended on stepladders, and the only true San Marzano tomatoes are grown on 370 acres in Italy and thus virtually all those consumed in the US are not legit.
VERDICT A fun book that both instructs and entertains on every page. Highly recommended.
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