You don’t need to buy canned tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, or food for that matter from outside the U.S. for better quality in taste and nutrition. Eating U.S. grown canned tomatoes and tomato products can help protect the environment, support local farmers, and you’ll still benefit from high quality taste and nutrition because USA grown tomatoes are the best tomatoes in the world!
Tomatoes are a nutrient-dense food and one of the healthiest fruits on the planet, packed with a variety of nutrients such as vitamin C, potassium, fiber, and antioxidants like lycopene. Lycopene is a powerful nutrient that has been shown in research to help decrease risk of chronic diseases, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. When tomatoes are heated, the body actually absorbs lycopene more, becoming more bioavailable compared to eating tomatoes that have not been heated. This is because the cell walls of lycopene are broken down further when tomatoes are heated, making it easier for our bodies to absorb and transport it. All canned tomatoes are cooked, making them a great choice for maximizing lycopene and nutrition overall.
However, you don’t need to purchase canned tomatoes and tomato products coming from outside the U.S. to obtain these benefits. In fact, eating U.S. grown tomato products will provide not only health benefits for yourself but be good for the environment too. Buying tomato products made outside the U.S. must travel a longer distance to get to you, meaning more transport costs, more pollution, all adding to the climate change problem and affecting the environment. The greater the distance food travels, the more energy the transportation consumes and the more CO2 it will release. These emissions have a significant impact on air quality and contribute to global warming. Transporting by air generates 50 times more CO2 than any other type of transport, making it the worst mode of transport, followed by road. Although sea shipping may be at the bottom of the list, sea shipping is slow, and in our increasing demand for food, food is increasingly being shipped by faster and more polluting means.
Rest assured there is something we all can do to help reduce food miles and help the environment, and that is simply purchasing canned tomatoes and tomato products grown on U.S. soil. Doing this will help reduce international food transport, greenhouse gasses emitted, improve our carbon footprint, save us money, support local farmers, benefit from high-quality tomatoes and nutrition, and overall help protect our planet. Consuming USA tomato products taste better and will not have traveled far, therefore no additional energy will have been used to transport them-imagine all the fossil fuel that could be saved! The benefits of purchasing American-grown canned tomatoes and tomato products are having the peace of mind knowing what you are getting with each product, consuming high-quality tomatoes, and the positive impact you are creating at a local and global level. In the documentary called “Empire of Red Gold” the filmmaker not only found fraud, pollution, and terrible worker conditions in China and Italy tomato processing centers, but also found Chinese canned tomatoes being shipped to Italy and being relabeled as Italian. Unlike China and Italy, U.S. grown tomato products follow standards of sustainability, worker justice, and safety. USA farmers need our support as they are struggling with global trade wars, tariffs, and increased costs up and down the supply chain. Therefore, choosing local tomato products also supports our local farmers and communities.
So, the next time you find yourself at the grocery store deciding on different canned tomatoes or any other type of tomato products like salsa, ketchup, marinara sauces, etc. remember the positive impact you can make and the American farmers you can help support by simply purchasing delicious local American-grown tomatoes.
Fatima De Haro is an RD2BE from Bakersfield, California. She received her B.S. from the University of California, Davis and will start her coordinated program in dietetics this upcoming fall through the University of Vermont where she will receive her M.S. in Dietetics and complete the dietetic internship. She is passionate about living a healthy lifestyle and believes that by incorporating nutrient-dense foods and being physically active, we can help prevent, control, and cure certain illnesses. In her spare time she enjoys being with family and friends, as well as hiking, trying new food, and cooking. Her goal is to become a clinical registered dietitian.