The Tomato Manifesto


So this is the time that I've been looking forward to all year. Tomato Season is here. I am a vegetable snob for sure, but my snobbery for tomatoes is admittedly over the top. You can ask anyone who knows me; I won't eat a store bought tomato, I bring my own tomatoes when I go to a restaurant, and I will only grow tomatoes that have passed a stringent vetting process. The good news for you is that I won't sell any tomatoes that I wouldn't eat myself. As a farmer and an educator, I enjoy teaching people about the joys of tomato eating. Like wine, I believe there are certain varieties of tomatoes that fit certain foods better.

But before I get into this, let me talk about the tomato pricing at Shiloh Run Farm. Being an organic farm, I look at other organic farms that grow real tomatoes and try to not undercut them too much. At the same time, as a consumer with a limited budget, I also realize that there's a limit to what I would pay for something even if I know I was getting a high quality product. Over the years, my taste in wines have matured. I used to enjoy a $5 bottle of wine, but now I find very few wines that I like that are under $15 a bottle. At the same time, as you know, there are $25 - $10,000 bottles of wine. Now is the $10,000 bottle better-tasting than the $15 bottle? Most likely, but I'm not willing to spend that much for the bottle of wine. This leads me to tomato pricing. Not counting cardboard tasting supermarket tomatoes, the going price for typical hybrid non-organic tomatoes in $3.50 a pound and heirlooms are $5.25 a pound; a very fair price considering the work that goes into the final product.

I am selling my heirloom organic tomatoes for $4 a lb and my hybrid organics for $3 a pound. For convenience, I sell vegetables by the item. Let me tell you an inside secret: farmers will sell heavier vegetables by the pound because they want to buyer to think the item will be less expensive than it is. I don't feel right doing that, so I will be selling different sized tomatoes for the prices I've set. I just want to clarify the prices. Keep in mind, several of the big hierlooms weigh several pounds. Most people will not want to spend that much for tomatoes, so I won't be selling the big ones unless you make a request.

I have two hybrids that I am proud to sell. One is a traditional Big Beef, which average10-12 oz., mostly blemish-free, globe-shaped red fruit with a full flavor, among the best hybrids available. I also have Damsel hybrids. Damsel produces 8-12 oz. (on average), globe-shaped fruits with beautiful, pink skin. They share the flavor qualities of sweet, rich, and tangy traditional pink heirlooms, such as Brandywine.