On Our Must Read List: Tomatoland

We haven't read it yet, so we can't recommend it, but Tomatoland by Barry Estabrook is definitely on our must-read list. Based on his 2009 article highlighting the connection between this favored fruit and modern slavery, Estabrook's book "tells us why the modern factory-farmed tomato in most grocery stores is a poster child for nearly everything that is wrong with industrial agriculture," according to a great review by Civil Eats blogger Kurt Michael Friese. Here's an excerpt of Friese's review:
Our enormous appetite for having pretty much any food available to us at anytime of year has led to a system where yes, you can have a tomato in February, but the cost is a lot more than the $1.25/lb you’re likely to pay at your local Wal-Mart. It comes at the cost of enormous environmental damage and shocking worker abuse. It utilizes thousands of migrant workers, some of whom are undocumented, and many of whom live and work in literal slave conditions. And since the muggy lowlands of Florida are not native habitat, a tomato plant there can fall victim to as many as 27 separate insect species and 29 different diseases, necessitating a plethora of chemicals that are as hard on the workers and the land as they are on the pests. Then there’s the 31 different fungicides in use. The list goes on.
Read the complete review.

Exploring the impacts of our food is a great way to use the lens of humane education to integrate high-level skills, such as critical thinking and synthesis, using a variety of subjects (math, economics, environmental science, language arts, social studies, etc.). If you're interested in using food as a springboard in your classroom, check out our activities such as True Price and How'd That Get on My Plate? for ideas.

~ Marsha

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