The Skeptical (WORLD FAMOUS) Chef: A True Canned Tomato Story

The Skeptical (WORLD FAMOUS) Chef: A True Canned Tomato Story

 

 

Inspired by a true story … can you guess who was the world-famous chef? 

Once upon a time, there was a young chef who had begun his career in a very progressive fresh/organic restaurant that would become the foundation for California Cuisine. He had a passion for creating delicious dishes but believed that in order to be successful, they needed to use the freshest ingredients possible. Unfortunately, good fresh tomatoes are only available in the summertime and could be inconsistent and expensive when they were available.

 

The chef had heard of canned tomatoes and starving one night after a late shift he decided to give them a try for a quick meal. At first, the chef was skeptical about using canned tomatoes, and had even mocked another chef friend (a young Mario Batali) for using them, but as soon as he tasted them, he realized his mistake. The tomatoes were incredibly flavorful and had a perfect texture. They were also incredibly convenient, as they could be stored for months without losing their flavor. The young chef quickly began incorporating canned tomatoes into more of his meals, and even proclaimed to Tomato Wellness (back in 2018) that if he were to open another restaurant today (he’s now long since retired) he would have a special dish on the menu proudly called “Canned Tomato Sauce” to champion the difference and superiority of the canned tomatoes.   

That chef was Jeremiah Tower.

Tower is known for his pioneering work at the iconic Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, California and later his own restaurant Stars, arguably one of the world’s best restaurants in the mid-90s. 

Although he was first skeptical of canned tomatoes, he admitted that his friend Mario was right after all. In part, thanks to Tower and many other famous chefs, today, canned tomatoes are a common ingredient in high-end restaurant dishes and are considered a staple in all home kitchens. Now more and more chefs are raising awareness to sustainability, seasonality, and food waste. 

Jeremiah Tower is also known for his many contributions to the field of culinary arts and his efforts to promote sustainable food systems. He has written several cookbooks and has been recognized with numerous awards and accolades for his work in the culinary industry. This documentary was produced by Anthony Bourdain, who considered Tower to be one of the first rock star chefs, and also the greatest. 

Jeremiah Tower and Alec Wasson, Chief Tomato Evangelist of Tomato Wellness in 2018. 

 

 

TPWC Member Highlight: California Tomato Growers Association

TPWC Member Highlight: California Tomato Growers Association

Get the scoop on Tomato Wellness member, California Tomato Growers Association. We are proud to have this company as part of the Tomato Wellness Family.

The California Tomato Growers Association has been supporting growers and the processing tomato industry since 1947 to ensure the stability, viability, and prosperity of the processed tomato industry. The CTGA is involved in every phase of the state’s processing tomato industry, from the economics of establishing a fair price to involvement with international trade, technological advances, public policy advocacy, and assisting growers with all aspects of their production and marketing. They recognize that after the growers’ hard work and expense of raising a crop, fair grading is essential. For this reason, the CTGA worked to form the California Processing Tomato Advisory Board and continues to be involved in this service today.

They also understand that scientific and technological discoveries allow growers to prosper in the highly competitive global tomato business. Therefore, in conjunction with the California Tomato Research Institute and private and public agencies, the CTGA has supported and assisted with a broad range of tomato-related research efforts. This research gives the grower the edge to produce a tomato crop second to none. Finally, their advocacy work for policies like the Bracero Farm Worker Program, which enables workers from Mexico to work here in the United States to support their families through a work permit, really sets them apart when it comes to assisting all aspects of the tomato processing industry. It helps to know that with the support of an organization such as this, the industry remains prosperous, the growers are taken care of, and the quality of the product is ensured.

We absolutely admire the CTGA and their passion for their members, industry, and products. Join us in honoring an exceptional organization.

To show your appreciation, order extra red sauce on your pasta or pizza tonight or try one of their tomato products in some of our favorite recipes! 

Crockpot Chicken Burrito Bowl
Slow Cooker Chili
Sloppy Joes

Shop local: why USA tomato products reign supreme

Shop local: why USA tomato products reign supreme

When you shop local, you support the local community, reduce your carbon footprint, and get higher-quality products. From transportation woes to budgetary advantages, here’s why USA tomato products reign supreme. 

Did you know you vote with your food dollars? Every time you visit a grocery store or order food at a restaurant, you have the opportunity to voice which products and companies you want to support. From organic offerings to budget-friendly prices, your purchases speak for themselves and will ultimately help determine if the quality of products will improve or not.

This doesn’t just stop here–it also extends to the product’s country of origin. Where your food comes from has a major impact on the quality of food, the local economy, and farmers who grow it. When you shop local, you can positively impact the environment and even your wallet. 

Here’s why you should consider prioritizing USA grown tomato-based products, and how your purchases can make a difference. 

Sustainable choices

Surveys show that 77% of Americans consider sustainability when making food purchases. Some reasons for this include:

  • desire to protect and preserve the environment
  • better quality/taste
  • show their support for companies who are doing the right thing
  • healthier products

Sustainable food doesn’t just come from packaging–it also stems from transportation costs and where the product was originally grown.

For instance, tomatoes grown overseas have to be transported to America, which incurs overseas transport, more fossil fuel usage, and ultimately a larger carbon footprint. Compare that to tomato products grown in the USA: you get to save on transportation costs, lower your carbon footprint, and still get the same quality compared to those grown anywhere in the world. It’s a win-win situation! Plus, you know food safety, worker safety and regulations in the USA are very different from other countries that are not taking care of their land or their workers. You can dig deeper into this here. 

Don’t fall prey to marketing hypes

Have you heard someone say that they need to pay more for Italian tomatoes because they are more exotic? Don’t fall prey to this train of thought! USA grown tomatoes are just as high of quality as those from Italy, and may even be better, especially considering that the economical and environmental benefits are much higher.  

Fun fact: Did you know that USA grown tomatoes have won numerous blind taste tests against those from Italy? Check out this video to see how tomatoes from America stack up against Italian ones!  

How can you shop local?

You can shop local by supporting those who grow your food. After all, the best way to thank a farmer is to buy from them! They work incredibly hard every day to bring you the highest quality canned tomato products. Plus, farmers give their best effort to preserve the soil and keep their manufacturing as climate friendly as possible.

When you make your choice at the grocery store, you essentially decide who you will support: Either American farms and the communities they support, or foreign countries where you don’t know about their oversight, food safety, worker and health regulations, and often an inferior product.

Check out this video to learn more about our hardworking tomato farmers in the US. 

Summary

Keeping it local is the way to go. Supporting our USA farmers has the potential to reduce the carbon footprint associated with transporting the product into the United States. This may seem small but the more times we make the choice to keep our purchases local, the better the effects will be on the environment down the road. By doing this, you will also be pouring back into your community and supporting local initiatives to reduce waste and protect the environment. So the next time you are craving a dish that requires canned tomatoes, shop local! 

Check out these other articles on why USA-grown tomatoes reign supreme:

Canned Tomato Challenge: San Marzano vs. USA
The Fake Rolex of Canned Foods
Why Buying USA-Grown Tomato Products Matters

TPWC Member Highlight: Ingomar Packing Company

TPWC Member Highlight: Ingomar Packing Company

Get the scoop on Tomato Wellness member, Ingomar Packing Company. We are proud to have this company as part of the Tomato Wellness Family and read to the end to see how in one of the worst droughts California has ever seen, they have figured out how to grow their own water!

Ingomar Packing Company is known as a premium supplier of industrial tomato products. Operating out of Los Banos, CA, they now have two processing facilities to ensure the consistency in producing high quality tomato products. Their tomato products include tomato paced and diced tomatoes which are world-renowned for their premium quality and taste.

What makes this organization so special is their continued support for their local community, their close attention to customer needs and their emphasis on environmental sustainability. Their business model highly relies on the local relationships they have with tomato growers. This relationship allows for community support and direct communication concerning the farm to processing procedure.

Each customized process guarantees that people receive their desired level of consistency and quality of diced tomatoes and tomato paste. Throughout the process, field, production, and QA teams ensure the utmost color, flavor, and texture of the tomatoes, which make them a perfect ingredient base in a wide array of products. 

The attention to detail can also be traced back to the equipment that is used for processing, as the needs of the customer are taken into consideration when packing every order. In 2010, Ingomar Packing Company established an initiative to cut back on waste products and pollutants to protect the environment and continue to stay mindful of their environmental impact. They installed solar panels and have a system to minimize overall water waste. 

And maybe most exciting of all, they have partnerd with an Australian company to extract the water from the tomatoes to be purified, repurposed and made available as drinking water! In a time where we are all facing historic drought condifitions, this is a monumental breakthrough. Watch this video to learn more! 

We absolutely adore Ingomar Packing Company and their passion for their community and their products. Try one of their tomato products in some of our favorite recipes!

Walnut and Mushroom Ragu
Sausage Tortellini Soup
Huevos Rancheros
Greek Style Braised Eggplant

Go Red for Movember!

Go Red for Movember!

Canned tomatoes can be a great benefit to men’s health. Go red for Movember and learn more about the power of tomatoes in our battle against prostate cancer.

It’s Movember – which means during the month of November, we are bringing awareness to men’s health. According to the Movember website, approximately 10.8 million men across the globe have been diagnosed with prostate cancer. That does not even include other health implications like testitular cancer and men’s suicide.

The Movember organization has many ways to support the movement of men’s health and the research involved in the fight against cancer. You can grow a mustache and start a fundraiser of your own, build a team and run/walk 60 miles in the month, or host an event to raise money for the cause. You can also take the fight into your own hands by building a lifestyle that benefits your overall health. Did someone say, eat more canned tomatoes? Let’s dive into the risks of cancer, why tomatoes are important for cancer prevention, and how you can go red for Movember. 

What increases your risk of cancer? 

While cancer can develop as a result of age or family genetics, there are also other potential factors that can be avoided or reduced. Some of the most studied risk factors for cancer are age related risk, alcohol, chronic inflammation, tobacco use, obesity, diet and cancer causing substances. The National Cancer Institute suggests that limiting your exposure to some of these lifestyle behaviors and maintaining a healthy weight can help to lower your risk of developing certain cancers. Diet can be incredibly impactful and a focus on choosing foods rich in antioxidants and vegetables has been associated with reducing cancer risk [1]. In fact, tomatoes, especially canned tomatoes, are a very popular source of antioxidants rich with beta-carotene and lycopene [2]. 

Tomatoes have a powerful team. 

Tomatoes have an incredible team of nutrients to provide our bodies with cancer fighting benefits. They are full of antioxidants which are known for their ability to neutralize free-radicals. It is possible for the body to create some antioxidants, but for the most part you have to get your antioxidants from food sources [1].

The antioxidants that are present in tomatoes are lycopene, beta-carotene and vitamin C [4]. This team of nutrients is what leads scientists to believe that tomatoes can be impactful in the fight against cancer. 

Fun fact: the red color of tomatoes is due to its lycopene content.

Canned tomato products like pizza sauce, ketchup, tomato paste, and tomato soup possess a more bioavailable form of lycopene due to the processing of these products [3]. This means that our bodies are better able to absorb these nutrients. While more studies are needed, lycopene has been associated with up to a 40% reduction of risk of aggressive prostate cancer [3]. Interestingly, one study showed that eating 2-4 servings of tomato sauce per week reduced the risk of prostate cancer by one-third [3].

Creative ways to go red for Movember

If you’re looking to add more canned tomatoes into your meal routine, we have you covered! Here are some of our favorite ways to use this produce item. 

 

Learn more about Movember with these resources:

References:

  1. National Cancer Institute – Risks for Cancer, November 9, 2022 from https://www.cancer.gov
  2. National Cancer Institute – Antioxidants and Cancer Prevention, November 9, 2022 from https://www.cancer.gov
  3. A Review of Epidemiologic Studies of Tomatoes, Lycopene, and Prostate Cancer. Experimental Biology and Medicine, November 9, 2022 from doi:10.1177/15353702022270100
  4. Healthline – Tomatoes, November 10, 2022 from https://www.healthline.com