The RIPE Stuff

One of the best gifts I received this year was a flat of tomato seedlings from Arthur Allen, author of RIPE: The Search for the Perfect Tomato.

After several years of tomato blight in our urban DC garden, my husband and I were excited to receive the plants in April from Art, who, let’s face it, knows from tomatoes. No way would these be the “little red cannonballs” you get in supermarkets. These were Tasti-Lees, a hybrid that he discovered in the course of writing his fascinating book, which traces the rise of the agri-industrial complex through a single crop. These babies, he assured us, are hard to kill and yet taste divine. Talk about the gift that keeps on giving; we harvested the first batch of sweet, juicy red fruit in June and picked the last valiant one in early November. I think of them every time I walk into a grocery store and see the flavorless ethylene-gassed tomatoes on display. Sigh.

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