Saturday, June 14, 2008

Mexican Tomatoes

Tomatoes have dropped off a lot of menus and grocery stores in the United States due to an outbreak of Salmonella which they say has been traced to tomatoes although there doesn't seem to be an answer as to where the tomatoes were grown. The last I read the Food and Drug Administration thought that the tomatoes were from Florida or Mexico.....but they weren't sure.

An article in the Houston Chronicle quotes Mexico's Agriculture Secretary, Alberto Cardenas, "The Mexican tomato is safer and cleaner than ever." The article continues: Even U.S. officials agree that certified Mexican exporters are among the safest in the world. Their fields are irrigated with fresh water, and their packing plants are staffed by workers covered head-to-toe in sterile clothing. Inspectors monitor the process at every step.

Do most Americans wash produce these days? My mother insisted that all vegetables had to be washed before they were used. Now, most people seem to trust the packaged vegetables are safe just because the package says that it has been washed before packing. So maybe we have become less careful about washing produce. Living here in Mexico, washing every leaf of lettuce and every fruit or vegetable has become such a habit, I can't imagine not washing them when we are back in the USA. We are eating foods from all over the world. They've been handled too many times by the time they get to our plates to know what might have happened to them since they were packaged in Florida, Chile or Mexico.

At any rate, all the beautiful tomatoes grown in Mexico for export can't cross the border and they are showing up in our markets here. We don't usually see tomatoes like these here. I bought this one yesterday, washed it in disinfectant as I always do, and put it in the window to ripen up just a little bit more. It will soon be combined with some fresh mozzarella, basil, a few drops of olive oil and a dash of balsamic vinegar.

7 comments:

gloria said...

Hi Billie. I recently started reading your blog, like today. I really find myself being swept away by all your comments and pix. I am being taken away to a faraway land and feel as if I am there. Wow, this is a great experience. I cannot find the month when your home was completed. I want to see what it looks like. Can you let me know at glorv1@sbcglobal.net. I would truly appreciate it and I need a lot of catching up to do, years at that, but I think it will all be worth it. Thanks ever so much for what you are giving us. Gloria

Steve Cotton said...

I have only recently acquired a taste for tomatoes. But I usually wait for the late summer when the local heirloom tomatoes come to market. You have the advantage of a regular source of local produce.

Billie said...

Steve, Homegrown or Farmer's market tomatoes are delicious. And worth waiting for.

Gloria, you ask a good question about photos of my house. They are scattered here and there through the blog as different projects were completed. I've photographed other people's houses, I really should do my house again as it is today....of course I have a few minor projects that I need to finish first. But that is always the case. Glad you found my blog and I hope you'll keep dropping in.

jennifer rose said...

So, why haven't any of those fantastic tomatoes shown up yet in Morelia? All our stores have are the usual salados, romas, and grape tomatoes.

But I did manage to score big last year by buying a small container of mixed tomatoes at Superama just for the seed, which I fermented and saved. And I'm now harvesting orange, three kinds of yellow, pink, green and grape tomatoes. I feel tomato-rich.

Nancy said...

I've thought about the washing routine here in Mexico as it relates to the outbreak up North and I do wonder if some of the illness could have been avoided by better cleanliness practices. I know I will never go back to a casual rinse under the tap like I used to do.

Did you see the blog from Zocalo de Mexico yesterday? I plan on ordering some tomato seed from them soon.

Debbie said...

Billie, this beauty looks like the ones we scored last time we were there. Makes my mouth water! Mine have all been eaten by squirrels .... do you have a good salsa recipe?

laura said...

Hi, Billie, sorry I missed you in Texas. Thought I'd mention that washing tomatoes does not rid them of salmonella. According to the papers, it can enter the tomato if the stem is broken off. If the stem is in place, a good washing is effective...
Laura