What is unique about tomatoes in the eastern US?

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I’m a California native currently on a road trip. Yesterday in Pennsylvania I had the best tomato I’ve ever tasted. Today in Maryland I had the second best. Where are these states getting their tomatoes from? Isn’t California known for good produce? What gives?

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Well first, CA can have good produce and so can other places. It’s not mutually exclusive. 😉 second, I’m a native Californian who’s lived in the southeast for almost 7 years now so here’s my POV on that now. California has been (I use this as past tense for a reason) able to grow A LOT of monocropped produce and ships it everywhere. Not too many small scale growers farming in ways that focus on flavor vs profits. But there sure is a lot of it around. I’ve also observed a California-centric attitude of superiority about our exports (agricultural and everything else) that doesn’t really stand when you actually spend some time in other states. Just because CA agribusiness is massive, doesn’t make their products are necessarily decent or flavorful as compared to others.

I mean probably different varieties than your used too, but tomatoes arent in season so unless it was greenhouse grown locally you probably got one from mexico where they grow this time of year.

California is known for the *volume* of produce, not necessarily the quality. I’m not saying California makes bad produce, but they make *tons* and a huge amount of it is shipped to other places. As a result, a lot of crops from California (and any other agriculture heavy area) is selected for transport…nobody wants a rotten/bruised tomato when it finally reaches the grocery store shelf, so they preferentially breed varieties that travel well and they pick them early so they aren’t overripe by the time they finish their truck journey to the store.

Unfortunately, particularly with tomatoes, the transportable/storable varieties give up a lot in flavour…this is why garden tomatoes almost always taste better. The best flavoured tomatoes, by far, are those grown locally and fresh off the vine in season. The *second* best flavoured are those that were bred for flavour commercially then rapidly shipped to their destination, which is probably what you ran into on the east coast…either air shipped from somewhere warm or greenhouse grown locally.

CA has great produce, but a lot of it is what you see in the central valley. There are some crops that just don’t get grown much out here. It’s the wrong season, but corn in the rest of the country is just so much better than what I get here in Socal.

Tomatoes this time of year? Those were probably from mexico. Just wait until the summer. The heirloom tomatoes grown locally here in NJ blow my mind, so sweet and juicy. Nothing like grocery store tomatoes shipped in year round, which taste like sweaty gym socks!