Why Farming? It All Began With Some Tomatoes

Why Farming? It all began with some tomatoes

As I handed over my resignation letter, a sense of panic shot through my heart. The panic was immediately followed by a series of questions that started running through my head. What was I doing? Was this a mistake? If so, could we recover from this?

I had been trying for the past year to rediscover my love for my career. To somehow find the passion that drove me to move across the country to Austin, TX and climb the corporate ladder as quickly as possible. Each day, I woke up determined to try harder to find enjoyment in what I was doing and each day, I found myself quickly zoning out, going through the motions, and daydreaming of being elsewhere.

I once read that if you’re unsure of your passion, look to your internet search history for a clue. When you’re truly passionate about something, you spend all your free time trying to learn more. For me, it wasn’t just internet searches, but my bookshelf too that was full of information about growing your own food and becoming self-sufficient.

In my late 20’s, I started a vegetable and flower garden in my backyard. I thought gardening would be a fun hobby, and I found that it was relaxing to be surrounded by plants, flowers and nature after a long and hectic day. I got really hooked when I realized that the food grown in our backyard had a taste that was far different from the food I purchased at the grocery store. The tomatoes that I grew in my garden were harvested fresh off the vine once they ripened, and they had a rich, deep tomato taste that was accentuated by a light drizzle of olive oil and a few shakes of salt. I quickly became addicted to simple and fresh tomato and basil salads, pastas, and sandwiches.

At the end of summer, I pulled up all my dying tomato plants and then headed to the nearest grocery store to buy tomatoes to continue making all my favorite summer tomato dishes. I quickly found the largest, and ripest looking tomatoes and headed home. I made a quick salad.

It’s hard to describe the look on my face as I took the first bite. Shocked? Appalled? Disgusted? Clearly I had made a mistake somewhere. The tomatoes I had purchased didn’t taste like tomatoes at all. They tasted like water balloons.

Back to the store I went, but the result at home was the same. I couldn’t replicate the tomato taste from my garden and I wanted to know why. So like all millenials, off to the internet I went in search of answers. What I found was shocking. If you’d like to read what I did – a quick search of “Why do supermarket tomatoes taste bland?” will lead you to a wealth of information.

I’m happy to save you the time and provide an answer with some brevity – It’s because supermarket tomatoes have been bred for uniformity in size, and ability to transport over thousands of miles without blemishing. For this – they need thicker skins and less sugar. Supermarket tomatoes are harvested while green and often ripened with gas. They aren’t meant to taste good – they’re meant to look good and transport well.

As I continued my education about commercial growing techniques and the problems in the food industry, I became even more distressed. I sighed out loud as I learned about the lack of nutrition in most fruit and vegetables today. My heart beat faster as I read about the environmental degradation caused by commercial growing practices. I hung my head as I read about the rising rates of obesity in children and the dangers of consuming large amounts of processed food. Surely someone is doing something about this, right?

And so, after a particularly terrible day at my corporate job, I quit. Luckily, I already knew exactly what I wanted to do next.

And so it began …

Maeday Farm is a small produce farm in Walnut Hill, FL that sells organic fruit and vegetables at farmer’s markets and to restaurants. 

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