You can go to Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, MOM’s, Safeway, Giant, Publix — you name it — and buy the most expensive tomatoes, but they’ll still taste just as flat as the cheapest ones you’ll find. I don’t care if they’re organic, hydroponic, vine-ripened or whatever — they still have no taste.
It’s a fact of life in America. I don’t know what our farmers do to their fruits and vegetables, but nothing tastes good when you buy it from the store. Most stuff tastes like cardboard, and if you’re lucky, it might have a semblance, a sad little ghost of the taste of the real thing. I call it the great American taste theft. It doesn’t matter if the stuff is cheap or expensive, it still tastes like crap. While I expect the cheap stuff to taste like that, I find it offensive and downright thieving to charge $3-7 dollars for a pound of tomatoes that tastes just like the ones that cost $1-2 dollars. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then you haven’t gotten around much.
Our families have always grown their own vegetables, even when they lived in cities. Now that Ligia and I are on our own, and we’ve only got a terrace, we still grow a few vegetables, mostly tomatoes, every year. Let me tell you that there’s a world of difference between the tomatoes you grow at home and the ones you buy at the store. The ones over there might look better, cosmetically-speaking, but the ones you grow with your own love and care, without pesticides or fertilizers, are the ones that will blow you away every time you taste them. They may have a few blemishes, they may not be as big or pretty as the ones in the store (you know, the ones full of hormones and all sorts of crap that’s not good for you) but when you bite into one, that fragrance and taste explosion you’ll feel is proof of their pedigree.
Trust me, there’s no substitute. You don’t know what you’re missing if you don’t try it out. You may lose a few tomatoes to disease, but if you let them fend for themselves, and only feed them water, till the ground once in a while and prune them carefully, you’ll come to find out what I mean.