You say tomahto, I say I’m hungry

I can’t face a summer without tomatoes.
Tomato, basil and fresh mozzarella – drizzled with a little olive oil. Tomato on crunchy bread slathered in mayonnaise and sprinkled with a little salt. Tomato in bite-sized chunks scattered on my garlic bread.
The salmonella scare hit while I was on vacation a few weeks back, and I laughed off the news in the Virginia papers proclaiming the state’s fruit safe.
Really, I didn’t expect to ask my waitress if the tomatoes in my salad were local.
Then I came home.
To savor relaxation mode for just a few more hours we stopped for heroes in Honesdale. Jonathan placed his order, and I stepped up to the deli counter. I wanted my usual.
As a vegetarian, my usual is heavy on cheese and veggies. Tomatoes are a must.
I was about to be disappointed. No one’s stocking tomatoes. No one.
The guy taking our order was apologetic, but I was bummed. A sandwich just isn’t a sandwich without tomatoes.
For that matter, a summer just isn’t a summer without tomatoes.
I like ‘em red, green, orange, striped and spotted.
I like the funky-shaped meaty heirlooms and the zesty little cherries.
The minute I was home, I went online. I traced the salmonella along with the FDA to Mexico and Florida.
Pheww. It’s a handling problem, not a growing problem.
Farmers’ market here I come.
I’d be heading there anyway, to be honest. Once summer comes to town, I steer clear of the produce aisle at the supermarket in favor of fruits and veggies that boast a little flavor, the kind I can only find fresh grown. The kind I’m not going to find fresh off the truck from Mexico or Florida.
The folks who promote the farmers’ markets here in Sullivan County talk about the importance of knowing your grower, and they’re right.
They talk about supporting the local economy, and I’m right there with them.
But my trips are fueled by an even more basic need – the need for real food with real taste.
I want my tomatoes – the meaty ones, the sweet ones and the tangy ones. I can’t face summer without them.

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