An Homage to Home Grown Tomatoes

Growing up, tomatoes have constituted a huge part of the cuisine I ate. Family favorites like tomato fried egg; tomato sauce in a delicious bite of New York-style pizza (the only acceptable kind); the pairing of ketchup with some perfectly crisp, seasoned fries; the classic Italian pairing of mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil; a garnish on ice cream—the list goes on and on. I have memories of stopping at every “Fresh tomatoes” sign on a road trip to buy the perfect, fresh cherry tomatoes. Washing them off by the roadside, eagerly anticipating the juicy flavor that comes with a single bite. So, following a week-long pile of tests, the last thing I expected was to find myself in at war for the reputation of the glorious tomato. But when there is beef regarding my favorite fruit and its honor is at stake, I’ll throw anything on the line. I’ll grab my sharpest pencil, pull my socks up, and prepare for war. How can anyone hate tomatoes? From their plentiful health benefits and rich umami flavor to their diversity and vast potential, tomatoes grace the Earth with their presence.
The obvious health benefits of this magical fruit link them to reducing heart disease, cancer, a great source of Vitamin C and K—among many other things. Filled with 95% water, tomatoes are a natural source of simple sugars and fiber. They nourish the body with Vitamin A, Vitamin C, potassium, Vitamin K1, calcium, and folate. Some of these nutrients help strengthen and repair bones and bone tissue. Others help reduce cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure, which helps prevent heart attacks and strokes. Vitamin A alone keeps hair strong and improves vision (and probably helps get A’s as well). And if that weren’t enough, tomatoes are packed with chromium which can keep blood sugar levels under control. In a world where everything seems out of your control, tomatoes can help you take back a little of your life. There may be nothing to be done about the 2 you earned on your AP exam—is it even called “earned” if it’s a 2?—, but having a hearty, tomato-filled dinner afterward could bring you the comfort you are looking for [1, 2].
Tomatoes also contain high quantities of lycopene. Highly concentrated in the skin, lycopene is known for its ability to protect cells from damage, which has previously been linked to fewer cancer cases, especially prostate, colorectal, and stomach cancer. Additionally, the pigment helps stop harmful damage caused by UV rays from the sun [1]. (And I know a lot of you lovely people wear a lot less sunscreen than suggested. You might as well eat a tomato or two if you don’t want to be 32 going on 60).
All these are much-needed vitamins and minerals that keep our bodies functioning at healthy levels. Packed in one fruit, it’s an all-in-one deal! Who needs Black Friday, when you can have such a special deal any day.
One of the things that make the tomato so remarkable is its intense umami flavor. One of the five tastes our tongue can detect, umami is hard to describe; its complexity can’t be fully expressed in words. Tomatoes are one of the richest foods containing such a wonderful flavor [3]. Disliking tomatoes is practically disliking umami, a lack of sophistication of which your ancestors couldn’t possibly approve. Remember, kids, we’re aiming for a high school diploma, not the gold star you got in second grade for class participation. Even world-renowned, Michelin-starred chef Gordon Ramsay can’t help but praise the beauty in a tomato’s flavor. He posts on Twitter, “Tomatoes have seeds, it’s a fruit,” a clear commentary on the extra texture and the versatile contents of a tomato, both factors that contribute to its unique umami.
There are over 20,000 varieties of tomatoes, and hating on them all is failing to recognize the things that make each one special. The emphasis on red tomatoes ignores the diversity within the tomato community. Tomatoes come in a huge variety of colors, including red, orange, yellow, green, purple, and so many more (we wouldn’t want to forget any colors, would we now). Let’s not forget the obvious color symbolism that can be associated with them. From red roses to hearts, red has always been the color of love. Some tomatoes bear the color of love, emphasizing the obvious tenderness they bring. If you are ever lonely on a Friday night, share a dinner with a tomato, for they will show you more love than the date who never showed up.
Orange, the color of fire, only reinforces the warmth and comfort these fruits bring. Orange you glad they’re keeping you company tonight?
Yellow tomatoes symbolize the sun and light because they can shine a golden light on any dark day, bringing a smile and a light at the end of the tunnel.
Following similar nature themes, nothing is more natural than greenness. Tomatoes like Green Zebra or Aunt Ruby’s German Green are all natural in color and taste.
Sporting the color of Roman royals are lesser-known purple tomatoes like the Cherokee Purple Heirloom Tomato [4]. Forget time machines and money when you can experience history and royalty through a single bite.
They are also diverse in size from Tomberry Tomatoes weighting 1 gram to the biggest record tomato weighing 3.96 kg. Each one is unique in its own way. With their crunchy skin, cherry tomatoes capture the perfect blend of juice and burst of flavor when popped on a warm, summer day. Beefsteak tomatoes, big and round, offer slices that can be enjoyed on a burger. Plum tomatoes, canned or fresh, are perfect for sauces. So diverse and versatile, there is no area where tomatoes disappoint.
Many claim there are seven wonders in the world. Yet, as a true tomato lover, I cannot help but think, in reality, there is only one. Tomatoes. Home-grown tomatoes, as John Denver would say. Beautifully put in his tribute to homegrown tomatoes, his hit song, “Home-grown tomatoes,” expresses, “What would life be like without homegrown tomatoes? … Only two things that money can’t buy/That’s true love and homegrown tomatoes.” Country music has never sounded better. If it is hard to believe John Denver—which is sacrilegious in of itself—might I direct you to the sincere words of author Lauri Coltwin, who writes “A world without tomatoes is like a string quartet without violins.” Logically, a tomatoless world makes less sense than raiding Area 61, and is more ridiculous than invading the capital building. How about Pablo Neruda, an expert writer, and Nobel Peace Prize connoisseur? “The tomato offers its gift of fiery color and cool completeness.” Truly a treasure that blasts away our taste buds and burns the world in a tantalizing whirlwind of color. Or maybe E. Lockhart, a #1 New York Times bestselling author, would interest you? Her life-changing books boldly touch upon the concept of morals, feminism, heroism, and of course, the fourth musketeer, tomatoes. “A tomato may be a fruit, but it is a singular fruit. A savory fruit. A fruit that has ambitions far beyond the ambitions of other fruits.” An ambitious fruit like none other—one that has tricked several into believing it to be a vegetable. Cunning and ambitious, a simple strawberry could never compare. With such powerful, moving, and important figures, in the past and present, coming together to spread the name of the glorious tomato, does anyone genuinely have the arrogance to argue otherwise? Can it possibly be justifiable to disrespect John Denver’s name like this? I couldn’t reach far enough in my mind to think so [5].
The last but most obvious virtue is the throwing physics of a tomato. Now we personally, as sophomores, have not taken Physics, but I don’t need mathematical equations and vectors to know that I could get a good throw in with a tomato. Achieving the perfect arc and splash in the face is easy, with the tomato’s powerful juices knocking out even the buffest guys. Just imagine: you’ve been cornered in a lonely alley in New York City (how did you get here? I’ll question you later on that). The lights are dimming, and even if you cried for help, in true New York fashion, no one would probably care (it’s a cruel world, and an even crueler world without tomatoes). Yet, in the corner of your eye, you spot the elegant color of red. With one swell throw, your tomato flies through the air, bouncing off the cheeks of the lackeys of an elaborate yet nameless Italian mafia gang, rendering them completely useless (they were probably innocent tourists asking for directions in an odd situation, but it’s too late for regrets now, just pray and book it before the cops come). With one tactically calculated throw, you’ve earned yourself safety (and probably a felony).
Would this have been possible with a strawberry? You jest, reader; the strawberry would tap the voluptuous head of the mafia boss, bounce off their foot, and roll away, leaving you at the mercy of a barely-bruised but a thoroughly-provoked gang of Peaky Blinders. A pathetic effort at self-defense, with an even more tragic fate lying ahead for you (nothing like added embarrassment).
What about a cantaloupe? If you actually had the arms and strengthened bones of a seasoned tomato eater, then perhaps the weight of this fruit would have accurately found its target and not your own foot. Instead, you might find yourself with a broken toe or two, leaving you completely unable to run away, let alone fight back.
Paired with gravity and a good arm, tomatoes make the obvious weapon of choice in any scenario, including but not limited to: the Hunger Games, a zombie apocalypse, and Avengers: End Game.
Everything starts and ends with tomatoes. Everything. What came first, the chicken or the egg? Tomatoes. It was tomatoes. Was the universe born from ice or born in a blast from the Big Bang? Neither. It was our tomatoes. It was always our tomatoes. To any question, there is an answer, and that answer is tomatoes. (Disclaimer: we take no responsibility if you fail a test using this method.) Nothing is more reliable than a tomato to lift you up on your saddest days (no, man’s best friend is not, in fact, a dog), provide a nice, round shoulder to cry on (who needs tissues, anyways, when your trusty tomato companion would grow and flourish from the water of your tears; it would rather be selfish of you to waste those tears), and protect you better than an older brother ever could.
From two tomato lovers to, hopefully, future or current tomato lovers, we implore you to open your eyes to the breath-taking world of a simple tomato.