I love tomatoes. Last year my wife said we put in “too many tomato plants,” although I can’t seem to even process that sentence. I love to eat them sliced onto burgers and sandwiches, sliced with cottage cheese, just sliced with salt, or even right off the vine like an apple. So I’m going to admit, that there were times in the past, before we got back in to gardening, that I walked by the simple tomato section at the store, and paid the premium for some vine-ripened tomatoes. Sure, they cost a bit more, but isn’t it worth it to get vine-ripened?
See, I always interpreted vine to mean the tomatoes ripened on the vine. I kind of had this image of a patient tomato picker carefully inspecting a nearly all-red tomato, waiting until that last little bit turned from green to red and the tomato was just begging to be eaten. Nope.
Vine-ripened does not mean they were picked when in full color, as one might assume. It simply means they were left on the vine a tad longer, only long enough to show a minute changing of green to color at the blossom end.
You see, with American’s increasing interest in health, and specifically our willingness to spend our hard earned money on things we perceive as more healthy, and more natural, the marketers have gotten better at leveraging words like healthy, natural, and organic to increase their sales.
Maybe you’ve seen some of the PETA videos of chickens crammed into pens so tightly that their feet don’t touch the bottom of the cages. These poor animals live a horribly unnatural life, never seeing the sun, unable to move, and fed growth hormones because we like out chicken breasts and wings large. So maybe you’ve decided to do your part by only buying free-range chickens. Sure, they cost a bit more, but once again, isn’t it worth it to know the animals lived a life uncaged, roaming freely around acres of open land and eating what they natural choose to eat?
It might be worth it, if that’s what it really meant, but it doesn’t. “Free-range” doesn’t really speak to the diet of the chicken at all, nor does it address the use of antibiotics or growth hormones. But surely it means the chickens lived unrestrained, right?
“In the United States, USDA free range regulations currently apply only to poultry and indicate that the animal has been allowed access to the outside. The USDA regulations do not specify the quality of or size of the outside range nor the duration of time an animal must access to the outside.
The term “free range” is mainly used as a marketing term… As of now what constitutes raising an animal free range is entirely decided by the producer of that product.”
Marketers are really good, at taking our money. I know that we are tempted to think we’re too smart, and too informed to fall for their tricks… just like the mark in a pool hustle things he’s good enough to win, but just keeps losing. They are really, really good, at convincing us we need what they’re selling and that what they’re selling is healthy and natural, even if they have to redefine exactly what “healthy” and “natural” mean.
Yet another reason I want to continue growing my own food as much as possible.