When I lived in a warmer, more humid and sunnier climate, I grew buckets of tomatoes that were bursting with flavor. A couple hundred years ago, they were thought to be killer tomatoes. Literally!
Did you know, in 1820, the idea that tomatoes were poisonous was broken once and for all by tomato farmer, Colonel Johnson. For a dozen years nobody thought his vegetable was fit for human consumption, until Johnson in dramatic fashion climbed the courthouse steps in Salem, Massachusetts and devoured a bucketful of the vegetables without suffering so much as a stomach cramp.
Of course the less well-off and the entire South of Europe had known all along tomatoes are fine. Italy in particular embraced it, creating a tomato-based dish that would make the vegetable popular everywhere.
Ever wonder why homegrown tomatoes taste so much sweeter than the ones in the supermarket?
Researchers found a genetic switch responsible for some of the sugar production within a tomato. A new study in Friday's edition of Science found that the common type of tomato bred for firmness and good shipping also inadvertently turns off the sugar-producing switch. That makes it less sweet and blander than garden varieties.
University of California Davis plant scientist Ann Powell said knowing the genetics behind the sugar-making could lead someday to development of sweeter tomatoes that also travel well. Now we know why 'store bought' tomatoes taste like... well, cardboard!