Americans love tomatoes. As our second-most-popular produce item, we’re accustomed to the sight of them: plump and bright red, marble to soft-ball sized, and piled in abundance year-round in the refrigerated fruit and vegetable aisle of the grocery store. Many of us eat tomatoes every day: if not au natural, in ketchup, salsa, or marinara sauce.
Yet our favorite fruit may not be quite as innocuous and delicious as it appears. In his new book “Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit,” journalist Barry Estabrook writes the biography of the modern tomato, revealing the environmental and human costs of big agribusiness. Estabrook traces the history of the tomato from the wild tomato berries that once grew in abundance in the rocky foothills of the Andes to the most familiar salad staple on the planet. A true tomato devotee, Estabrook explains why our love for tomatoes is hurting not only field workers and the environment, but our taste buds, too.