Wednesday, December 08, 2004

The Great Tomato Famine of 2004

Just when I was getting over the election result, this hits. Because of hurricanes in Florida, heavy rains in California and insects in Mexico, tomato prices have skyrocketed like a motherfucker (Newsday). [click here to continue]A Long Island restaurant owner reports that beefsteak tomatoes went from $15 to $70 a case in two weeks towards the end of October. And in grocery stores, plum tomatoes are going for around $4/LB (I didn't even look at the prices for vine tomatoes) and frankly, the quality is crap.

This is nothing short of distressing for a tomato lover like yours truly. My "healthy" cuisine usually involves a heavy amount of the juicy red stuff, from salsa to pasta topping to, once every blue moon, salads.

Tomato porn
It's having an effect on takeout as well. Tomatoes are by request only at Wendy's (Adfreak) and the bestest sandwhich shop in Lower East Side, Tiny's Giant Sandwich Shop is charging extra, and a couple of nights ago at Bereket, while the guy did give a girl extra tomatoes as she requested, he noted that they paid $60 a case.

The good news is that this shouldn't last too long, at least according to Newsday, which reports, " late November, shipments recovered to about 75 percent of their former level. "We're turning the corner," said Gary Lucier, an economist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. "It was like 'the perfect storm' for tomatoes, but now the supply is starting to pick up. In another two or three weeks we'll hopefully have prices similar to last year."

In the meantime, I will be resigned to getting my tomato jollies vicariously through images from Tomatina, the big annual tomato fight in Spain.

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