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Tomatoland Opens the Curtain on the Dangers of American Agriculture

Something is not ripe with the tomato industry, according to Barry Estabrook’s book, Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit. Estabrook examines the corruption and hardships of the red and juicy fruit that is often seen atop  many salads.

The fruit best known for being fresh in the summertime finds its way to the produce section each winter thanks to warm, sunny Florida weather. Estabrook writes that approximately one-third of the U.S.’s tomato supply comes from a state where tomatoes do not naturally grow. Florida’s environment is often difficult with a lack of nitrogen in the soil, insect pests, and bacterial and fungal diseases that can threaten the life of a plant. To make up for these disadvantages, tomato growers often spray the tomato farms with chemicals and pesticides, according to Estabrook.

These chemicals are very harmful to the hard-working tomato pickers and their families, who can get sick or have children with several birth defects. Not to mention these chemicals are extremely harmful to consumers, who may be at risk when ingesting the tomatoes. In addition, tomato pickers work very long and taxing hours in the brutal sun. The workers get no paid vacation and no benefits, and some have even been forced into slavery.


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