An excerpt from a letter, found in the Library of Congress, between Abraham Lincoln, and someone that would become his nemesis later on, Clement Vallandigham. An Ohio opponent of the Civil War and of abolition, he hated canned tomatoes and eventually was thrown out of the country by Abraham Lincoln because of his views. As a result of his banishment, Vallandigham became a martyr to his cause and was nominated for governor by the Democratic Party in 1863. He ran the race from exile. The stakes in this colorful campaign were enormous, and Lincoln was highly involved, worrying that a Vallandigham victory would be seen as a rejection of the war by voters. That could have been devastating to the Union cause. Many historians wonder if it all started over their disagreement about canned tomatoes:
My dear friend, let me tell you why canned tomatoes are so great.
Firstly, canned tomatoes are a testament to human ingenuity and innovation. They are the result of years of hard work by farmers, food scientists, and engineers who sought to preserve the bounty of the tomato harvest for year-round consumption.
Secondly, canned tomatoes are incredibly versatile. They can be used in a wide range of dishes, from hearty stews to refreshing salads. They add depth and flavor to sauces, soups, and casseroles, and can even be used as a base for homemade ketchup.
Thirdly, canned tomatoes are a healthy and nutritious addition to any diet. They are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can help boost the immune system, protect against disease, and promote overall health and wellness.
Finally, canned tomatoes are a symbol of resilience and perseverance. Just as the tomato plant can weather storms and overcome adversity, so too can we as individuals and as a society. In the face of challenges and difficulties, we can draw strength and inspiration from the humble tomato, and its enduring legacy of nourishment and sustenance.
So, my dear friend, I hope you now understand why canned tomatoes are so great. They are a testament to human ingenuity, versatility, health, and resilience, and are truly one of nature’s greatest gifts to humanity.
Get the scoop on Tomato Wellness member, Los Gatos Tomatoes. We are proud to have this company as part of the Tomato Wellness Family!
For over three decades, Los Gatos Tomato Products has earned a reputation for their commitment to customers and the environment as an industry-leading supplier of high-quality tomato paste. Their strong commitment to the industry, coupled with a focus on long-term relationships with customers and growers, make it an honor to profile this Tomato Wellness founding member.
Los Gatos Tomato Products was established in 1991 in the heart of Western Fresno County with the objective of growing and harvesting tomatoes from the most productive growing region in the world with a singular focus on producing high-quality tomato paste. Presently, four families with multi-generational farming operations and deep roots in agriculture serve as both committed growers and owners with shared values and commitment to a sustainable future.
The location of the processing facility is environmentally advantageous because of the short transit time from field to processing, with the majority of tomatoes grown within a close proximity to the plant. Long term relationships with growers and customers allows for alignment in the production of high-quality tomato paste tailored to customer needs and specifications.
The dedicated team at Los Gatos Tomato Products has built their reputation on quality and consistency over the years. Their customers have come to rely on a trusted supply of high-quality tomato paste for their products.
We applaud the values of Los Gatos Tomato Products as an authentically quality and sustainably minded processor and appreciate their contributions to our industry.
Try one of their tomato products in some of our favorite recipes!
After 15 years, Aaron Barcellos the Chairman of the Tomato Products Wellness Council is stepping down. We thank him for all of his efforts on behalf of the whole USA tomato products industry. We have dealt with a number of highs and lows and the state of the TPWC is bigger and stronger than ever. A big part of that is thanks to Aaron and our whole board of voluntary members that do the heavy lifting for the whole industry. Without this collaborative effort, the USA tomato products industry would not be as strong as it is today.
Aaron is a partner with his family farming operation A-Bar Ag Enterprises in Firebaugh California, and is a fourth-generation farmer. His family started in Dairy but now his farm produces crops, including pistachios, cotton, olives, pomegranates, and (his favorite) tomatoes. He’s been featured on all the major networks for his insight into the long-standing California drought, and he was featured in a podcast during the lockdown about what it meant for farmers. He’s also leading the next generation of farmers forward and Tomato Wellness has featured his nephew Jake several times for field updates.
National Canned Food Month is a great opportunity to recognize the benefits and convenience of canned food, especially canned tomatoes. Restaurants and families can benefit from celebrating this occasion by highlighting the versatility, affordability, and long shelf life of canned tomatoes.
First and foremost, canned tomatoes are an incredibly versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes, from soups and stews to pasta sauces and salsas. They are also available in different forms, such as whole, diced, crushed, or pureed, making them easy to incorporate into any recipe. And they’re available ALL YEAR LONG! Because they’re packed and sealed at the peak of freshness, you can enjoy the taste of summer even in the cold and gloomy months (more on that in the next article from The New York Times).
Canned food is also on par with fresh fruit nutritionally, BUT in the unique case of tomatoes, the canned version actually is even better for you thanks to the heating process which releases the lycopene and makes it 2-3 X MORE bioavailable. This is a fantastic bonus for these delicious products that any Italian Grandmother is going to tell you is your best choice for cooking anyway!
Whether you are a restaurant looking to offer affordable and nutritious menu options, or a family looking for pantry staples that can be used in a variety of meals, canned foods are an excellent ingredient to feature all year long.
Inspired by a true story … can you guess who was the world-famous chef?
Once upon a time, there was a young chef who hadbegun 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.
Thechef 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.