Get the scoop on Tomato Wellness member, Kagome. We are proud to have them on board as part of the tomato community!
Kagome may have started small, but they have increased their reach to have a collaboration with growers, partners and customers to cultivate a passion for food that now spans the globe. While they produce a colorful variety of fruit and vegetable products, they have never strayed from founder Ichitaro Kanie’s principles of making great tasting foods that are true to nature.
The term “Kagome” translates to basket weave pattern in Japanese which is a reference to the lattice baskets used to harvest produce. Kanie first began growing Western crops, including tomatoes in 1899, and started producing purees and sauces a few years later. In 1989, Kagome opened for business in Los Banos California, and emphasized creating customized sauces for U.S. restaurants. In 1993, they expanded to include an internal research and development center and have continued to expand their reach and offerings. Kagome now operates 15 facilities in 10 countries offering a wide variety of products.
Kagome utilizes current agricultural research to increase the overall quality of their crops and improve the efficiency of their production process. Along with this they put an emphasis on creating unique and flavorful sauces by bringing a chef into their research and development team. Their products include pizza and pasta sauce, salsa, BBQ sauce, cocktail sauce, along with a variety of Asian sauces and other flavor enhancing toppings.
The Kagome Way
This is an all-encompassing phrase that they use to describe the pride they have in the company. They value customers, long-term relationships, elite quality, food safety, and commitment to their communities. Their team displays respect, passion, grit, teamwork and commitment every day, and holds themselves to the highest standards. Watch this video to learn more.
Welcome a piece of Kagome into your home by trying a few of their tasty recipes.
Get the scoop on TPWC member, Pacific Coast Producers. We are proud to have this family-run company as part of the tomato community!
Pacific Coast Producers started in 1971 with their first location in Lodi, California. Since then they have expanded their company, and offerings, with locations across the entire Pacific Coast. They were founded by farmers as an agricultural cooperative. Their passion for growing quality crops allows them to work with other farmers that share the same values. Pacific Coast Producers have made it their mission to meet the brand requirements of their customers, while providing world class service at a competitive price.
Pacific Coast Producers make a variety of canned fruit products, along with an entire line of tomato goods. Their tomatoes are offered as whole, diced, crushed, or pureed, as well as pizza sauce, marinara, salsa, enchilada sauce. Along with several products to choose from, they also have organic products, ensuring that every customer has what they need to be successful in their own business.
The majority of tomato growers are in the Woodlake and Los Banos areas of California and 95% of their tomatoes are grown within a 17 mile radius of the Woodlake processing plant. This close proximity allows them to make quality tomato products at peak freshness. It can take less than 24 hours to take a tomato from a vine in the field to a finished product ready for use.
At Tomato Wellness, we help with their annual Registered Dietitian Tour every year, but because of the lockdown, you can now get to experience the tour virtual: The Heart of California Tour 2020
Here are just a few recipes highlighting their quality products.
Could the secret to glowing, healthy skin be sitting in your kitchen pantry? Read on to learn more about what science has to say about lycopene and skin health.
Canned (and jarred) tomatoes are full of bioactive compounds such as polyphenols, carotenoids (like lycopene), and other vitamins. While some can be isolated and taken as a supplement, they are most effective when they come directly from foods. In their most natural form, the compounds work together, and have been shown to protect and promote healthy skin (1).
Lycopene has antioxidative properties, and while tomatoes contain a high concentration of this carotenoid, heating them during canning increases the bioavailability. In the body, the highest concentration of lycopene is found in the skin tissues, and studies have shown that regular consumption of lycopene rich foods such as tomato products can increase the serum lycopene levels as well as procollagen I. These studies also indicated a decrease in mitochondrial DNA damage (1). Beyond lycopene, tomatoes also contain vitamins A, C, and E, which decrease inflammation and protect from UV light.
Looking for ways to get that healthy glow with tomato products? Check out these recipes:
Fam, V., Charoenwoodhipong, P., Sivamani, R., Holt, R., Keen, C., & Hackman, R. (2022). Plant-Based Foods for Skin Health: A Narrative Review. Journal Of The Academy Of Nutrition And Dietetics, 122(3), 614-629. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2021.10.024
There are a number of health benefits that come from the regular consumption of tomatoes and tomato products. Here’s what science has to say about the correlation between canned tomatoes and cancer prevention.
Cancer is a global health concern, and a leading cause of death worldwide. Billions of dollars are spent annually on cancer research, and a significant number of those studies focus on the effects of certain compounds found in food and their cancer prevention properties. The bioactive compounds of plant based foods have been thoroughly examined, with an emphasis on carotenoids and phenolic compounds.
One of the most potent antioxidants out there is called lycopene, which is the powerful pigment responsible for giving tomatoes their bright red color. It can also neutralize reactive oxidative species, and prevent damage to our cell’s DNA. According to several scientific studies, people who consume more tomato products have a reduced risk of developing prostate cancer, likely due to the powerful combination of lycopene, vitamin A, and vitamin C that occurs naturally in tomatoes. Along with being an antioxidant, lycopene can promote cancer cell apoptosis (ie. death), and interfere with cell signaling pathways to prevent cancerous cells from reproducing.
While fresh tomatoes are relatively high in lycopene, the compound becomes more bioavailable as tomatoes are cooked, meaning your body can absorb more and take advantage of its anti-cancer properties. Why is this? Heat changes the structure of the lycopene molecule, making it easier for the body to take in, and helps break down cell walls, which frees lycopene and allows it to be absorbed. A recent study found that men who ate cooked tomatoes five to six times per week had a 28% decreased risk of developing prostate cancer versus those who didn’t. Eating tomato products such as tomato sauce, tomato juice, tomato soup, canned tomatoes, tomato paste, and salsa is a great way to ensure you are getting in plenty of cancer-fighting lycopene.
To get the most out of your canned tomato products, try adding a little bit of oil to your tomatoes, as this can boost your ability to absorb lycopene even more. This is because lycopene is a fat-soluble compound, and the fat in oil helps lycopene get broken down to a form usable by the body. A serving of whole wheat pasta with tomato sauce and a side salad with olive oil and vinegar is the perfect prostate-cancer-preventing meal!
Looking for ways to power up your lycopene intake? Check out these recipes:
Is fresh really best? Despite some common misconceptions, canned goods (like tomatoes) can be a more delicious, nutritious, and a more affordable option compared to their fresh counterparts. Here’s why you should consider adding some canned (or jarred) tomatoes to your grocery list.
Many people may be under the belief that while canned foods are convenient, they are lacking in nutrients. But is this thought process really true? Let’s break down the difference between fresh and canned tomatoes to see which one comes out on top.
Tomatoes pack many beneficial health compounds–such as fiber and vitamins A and C–that are important for a healthy heart, as well as eyes, skin, and gums. Tomatoes also contain a powerful antioxidant and pigment called lycopene, which lends tomatoes their bright red color and contributes to heart health and cancer prevention.
While they may be available year-round, fresh tomatoes are often shipped over long distances in the winter or grown in heated greenhouses. It can take up to two weeks from field to fork to get fresh tomatoes when they are out of season, and they certainly won’t taste as good. While fresh tomatoes can add a flavorful bite to many dishes, they are best when they are in season. However, if you don’t have a garden and have to purchase fresh tomatoes, you might want to reserve them for dishes in which this texture really makes a difference (such as salads and sandwiches), as there’s no need to use fresh in dishes that feature cooked tomatoes.
Canned tomatoes are harvested at their flavor and nutrition peak and canned within just a few hours. Plus, they are quite affordable, meaning that this is a budget-friendly, easy, and convenient option for you and your family.
In addition to the affordability of canned tomatoes, they are rich in vitamins and minerals your body needs to function properly and can help boost energy and reduce the risk of certain diseases. In fact, studies have shown that canned tomatoes are even more nutrient-rich and environmentally-friendly than fresh tomatoes. And, as people continue to cook from the comfort of their own homes, canned tomatoes have grown in popularity thanks to their ease of use, high nutrition content, and a variety of forms (like tomato sauce, tomato paste, marinara sauce, salsa, and diced, stewed and whole tomatoes). Since fresh tomatoes can cost more–especially during the fall/winter/spring–you’re better off using canned/jarred tomato products for dishes in which the texture of fresh isn’t important, such as pasta dishes, pizza, lasagnas, curry, soups, stews, and casseroles and you want that PEAK of season flavor and nutrition.
What’s the verdict?
While fresh tomatoes can be eaten throughout the year, they are at their peak during summer; as such, it can be challenging to enjoy their ripeness during fall, winter, and spring. Conversely, canned tomatoes can be enjoyed all year round as an affordable, nutritious option that consistently delivers those delicious summer flavors whenever you need them.
In June of 1889, Queen Margherita of Italy visited the southern reaches of her realm. After arriving in Naples, she requested to eat a food enjoyed by her country’s commoners. When summoned, pizzaiolo Raffaele Esposito prepared his queen three different pies, one topped with tomato, cheese and basil, mirroring the colors of the Italian flag. She loved that pizza so much that a royal representative sent a letter to Pizzeria Brandi that hangs on its wall to this day. Esposito named the pie Margherita in the queen’s honor, and, more importantly, the modern pizza was born.
Or was it?
That origin story has persisted through pizza’s expansion beyond Italy’s borders and rise in popularity around the globe during the late 20th century. “The hamburger is the quintessential American fast food, but pizza is the quintessential global fast food,” says Carol Helstosky, an associate professor of history at the University of Denver and author of Pizza: A Global History. “There’s a version of pizza just about everywhere.”
But with pizza’s ubiquity comes half-truths, fables and hard-nosed opinions. From its history (were pizza-hungry GI’s responsible for its America popularity post-WWII?), to how make it (San Marzano tomatoes?), to the proper way to eat it (knife and fork allowed?), there are countless stories and customs surrounding pizza. Any of which can get people heated.
“With other types of food, people are willing to break with their conceptions and preconceived ideas and be really into challenging them,” says Steve Samson, chef-owner of Rossoblu and Sotto, home of one of L.A.’s best pizzas. “But with pizza, everyone has their own idea of what it should be like.”
With ample misinformation out there, we wanted to separate truth from tall tale about the world’s favorite flatbread. Here, we called upon Helstosky, Samson, pizza scholar Scott Wiener, and The Sporkful’s Dan Pashman to debunk eight prevailing pizza myths.
Myth: Italians invented pizza.
Image via Getty/Pacific Press
While the flatbread-sauce-cheese version of pizza most likely originated in Naples, Italy can’t quite take credit for inventing pizza. “The broadest definition of pizza is a yeasted flatbread with ingredients baked into it. That had its origins with the Greeks,” Helstosky says. “There’s archaeological evidence of bread ovens and pictorial and visual evidence of what appears to flatbreads with spots on them. The ancient Greeks’ bread, called plakuntos, became a meal in and of itself.” Because Naples was founded as a Greek port city, the pizza that developed there may be part of the lineage of Greek flatbreads, but pizza had a history preceding its rise to popularity in Italy.
Myth: You need San Marzano tomatoes to make a great sauce.
Image via Flickr
“People treat San Marzano tomatoes like it’s some name brand, but that wording on the cans means nothing,” Wiener says. “San Marzano is the name of a seed. You can grow it well or grow it poorly. Now, in the European Union, San Marzano is a protected mark that has to be grown in a predicted region. If you grow your tomato in that region, you can get DOP certification. Where people in America get confused is think they all San Marzanos are those special Italian kind. When you go out shopping for a San Marzano, there’s a good chance that’s a tomato from China that’s packaged in Italy. I tell people to go buy three cans of tomatoes and taste them side-by-side to see which you like the best, whether it says San Marzano or not. For me, Trader Joe’s canned plum tomato is usually the best one.”
Myth: Servicemen returning from WWII spread pizza’s popularity in the U.S.A.
Image via Getty/Bettmann
“It’s our assumption that pizza had its origins in Italy and hopped over to America sometime in the 20th century. Around 1945 is when pizza went global,” Helstosky says. “But there’s a belief that pizza became popular in the United States post WWII because troops came home from war and wanted it. But I wasn’t about to find that in my research.” Helstosky says some basic facts about the war contradict the returning-GI theory of pizza’s spread. “The invasion of Italy was a limited number of U.S. troops. There were more soldiers in England, France, and Western Europe. And at the time, pizza was still a regional dish confined mostly to Southern Italy and Naples, so not many would have seen it. Also, when troops would have arrived near the end of the war, Naples was destitute. Neapolitans had become so desperate, they actually emptied out the city’s aquarium and ate all the fish in it. So I doubt soldiers would have said after being there ‘I had this great food in Naples.’”
Myth: You should never eat pizza with a knife and fork.
Image via Getty/AFP
When New York City mayor Bill DeBlasio was spotted eating his pie with a knife and fork, he was pilloried. But Pashman takes umbrage with the umbrage. “A politician eats the pizza with a fork and knife and then comedians mock the politician,” Pashman says. “If politicians got it all over their face or dripped sauce on their shirt, the comedians would make fun of them worse. I can’t blame a politician for being careful around a slice.” But it’s not just elected officials who need not refrain from cutlery. “I interviewed Patsy Grimaldi, the 80-year-old who is the last pizzamaker in America to train under someone who trained under Lombardi, our closest link to America’s original pizzeria,” Pashman says,“And he told me he will use a knife and fork when the slice is too hot to pick up. So by all means, be like Patsy and eat pizza with a knife in fork.” Wiener largely concurs. “When you’re mayor of New York, you shouldn’t eat it with a fork and knife,” he says. “But the whole point of pizza is that it’s casual and the moment you put rules to pizza you violate what it is and that’s just lame.”
Myth: Mozzarella di Bufala is required for a great pie.
Image via Getty/Marka
Pizza purists may argue that fresh mozzarella made with the milk of a water buffalo is the superior cheese for your pie, but even a self-described traditionalist like Samson agrees that the best cheese to use depends on the style of pizza you’re making. “The part-skim mozzarella, those individually wrapped logs of cheese like you see in Brooklyn—that’s the cheese to use in a true New York-style pizza,” Samson says. “Mozzarella di Bufala has more water in it and so it would make a soupier pie. So you want to make a big New York pizza with drier cheese.”
Myth: Fresh dough is better.
Image via Getty/Carlos Osorio
“It comes up on my tours all the time, and people are surprised that pizza places we visit don’t use dough made that day,” Wiener says. “If I give them the option of having dough made that day and dough that’s a day or two old, they pick the one made today. It may seem obvious to some people to want the older dough, but people think fresher is better. Why you want that older dough is that the process of proofing is more than just the physical rising. You can let dough sit out all day and it will rise, but if you drop the temperature, and let the dough rise slowly, it allows time for fermentation, which really develops flavor.”
Myth: You can order pepperoni pizza in Italy.
Image via Arthur Bovino
You can order pepperoni pizza—you just won’t get anything with meat on it. “There is no such thing as a pepperoni sausage in Italy. It doesn’t exist there,” Samson says. “If you were to order it in Italy, you’d get peperoni, which literally means bell peppers. Pepperoni is an American thing. It’s a mix and beef and pork that’s smoked and they don’t do that in Italy. You could salame piccante in Italy, which is a spicy pork sausage. That’s the closest you’d get to pepperoni. But really, they don’t do much smoked meat in Italy; it’s usually cured, fermented, and aged.”
Myth: Queen Margherita ate and approved of the pizza that bears her name.
Image via Getty/Bettmann
Back to that famed origin story we mentioned in the opening. That oft-repeated tale is dubious for many reasons. “Do I think that happened? Probably not,” Helstosky says. “Back then, people were disgusted by pizza. And it’s not like Italians thought after 1889 that pizza was great. It remained a regional dish for decades. Italy doesn’t have a long history of cookbooks, but when I studied ones from the 1920s and ‘30s, there was hardly any mention of pizza. It was not considered an important or classic Italian dish even then.”
One could argue that just because pizza didn’t immediately spread after 1889 that Margherita still may have eaten and liked the pizza. That myth is built upon the very official-looking letter from the queen’s representative that hangs in Pizzeria Brandi. With some deep historical digging, Zachary Nowak has cracked that foundation. Through studying the seal on the letter and comparing the handwriting to other documents written by the letter’s supposed author, Nowak concludes the letter is a forgery. Also, fully six years before the supposed meeting with the queen, Esposito was already petitioning the police to let him call his restaurant “Pizzeria della Regina d’Italia” or “Pizzeria of the Queen of Italy.” Getting people to think royalty ate his food seemed to be a long-term hustle by Esposito, and it looks like his persistence allowed him to eventually pull one over on the world.