Tuesday, August 10, 2010


It's been three days since I started panicking, and I mean REALLY panicking, about our upcoming tomato situation.

Again, my lazy, grocery store mentality thought, OH, Tomatoes? I'll just pop down to the farmers market, pick some up, and can them. No problem! Until I was reminded that I'm in Washington, where tomatoes are not necessarily plentiful (at least on my side of the mountains), and are very expensive when you can find them.

My back up? I'll just drive to Eastern Washington, pick up a couple flats of tomatoes, and can them, right?

Well, not exactly. I'm traveling for 16 days over the next month, also throwing a baby shower, and lets not forget my daily drying ritual which is time consuming to say the least.

And let's not forget the cost! We are trying to prove that this can be done on a budget, but first we had to estimate how many tomatoes we use on a regular basis.

We use about 2-14.5 oz cans a week, on average, and more when we have guests. That's a little under a quart a week. 52 Weeks in a year, and there you go, we'll need 52 Quarts of tomatoes.

But wait!

How many tomatoes go into a quart of home-canned tomatoes? 3 Pounds.

At $2.50 a pound (cheapest we've seen, for canning purposes), that comes out to be....OUCH....

$7.50 a quart.

Now, let's compare that to Costco, where we can get a box of 8, 14.5oz diced, ORGANIC, tomatoes, for $7.

That's right around $2 a quart!

When you are faced with evidence like that, you have to ask yourself, 1) WHY am I doing this, and 2) what is the incentive to find, can, and store 52 quarts of tomatoes, when I can pop down to Costco and get some Organic ones for less than a third of the cost?

Well, as I'm sure you've heard, tomatoes are a hot-bed (sorry for the pun!) of controversy. Here are some fun facts:

* Tomatoes are often grown in Mexico, where they are cheap to produce and cheap to hire farmers.
* Tomatoes are sprayed to control weeds and insects, sprays that have been attributed to many health ailments
* Soil is fed NPK to boot yields, and usually, they are picked green in order to last longer and ship better (meaning less flavor and vitamins)
* Tomatoes are trucked to your grocery store, which burns fossil fuels and costs a lot of money for the fuel, energy, materials, transportation, etc., etc..

These are definitely not things I think about when I pick up a case of tomatoes.

I'm definitely trying to figure out where to get them, when to get them, and how to find them cheap, but if not, we might be without tomato sauce for a whole year.

1 comment:

  1. This might be the incentive to put a couple of big pots of tomato plants on your deck. Even if you move them inside when it freezes, you should get some tomatoes off them if you have a sunny window where you can put them. I left several plants hanging in one of those upside down growers a few years back - they had barely produced a handful of tomatoes before we left for GA in Sept. My neighbor says she picked tomatoes most of the winter from them.