Sunday, April 17, 2011

How Do You Like Dem Tomatahs? Comments On This Week's News

I couldn’t let this story pass by without commenting on it, and anyone in the farming or food industry will understand why. This past week $250,000 (yes a quarter of a million dollars) worth of tomato crop were stolen from a farmer in Florida. You can find the (free) article here via ABC.

While I am relieved we’re not having food riots in our country, a great tomato heist like this shows us how much of a commodity our food has become. Our food prices are directly tied to fuel (eg the cost of gas), growing conditions, and calamities going on in the world (whomever has had a flood, freeze, drought or earthquake is purchasing food from us).

Additionally, it brings to mind a few questions (and some comments):

Where are you going to fence said tomatoes? (they were originally destined for Wendy’s)
“Psstt… hey mister… these nice tomatoes just fell off the back of the truck”. I suspect if the thieves went through such trouble to set-up a fake company, they already had a buyer in store so to speak.

What does this do to our efforts to have more traceability in our food? Doesn’t matter where they were destined, would you eat one knowing it was stolen not knowing how it was handled (though by now you know where it was grown)?

Which brings me to think if it had been beef or pork, there would’ve been a nationwide man-hunt out to stop it from getting into our food system

This very well might not be the last time we hear a story like this. Next time you’re at one of your local farmers markets (ours are just starting up) remember what a commodity your local farmers truly are to your own dinner table.