The Popular Tomato

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This is about the popular tomato, one of my favorite vegetables. Officially it is classified as a fruit but tastes more like a vegetable to me. One hundred years ago they were grown from open-pollinated plants that bred true - these are now called heritage or heirloom varieties. Now, in addition to heirlooms, there are 2 more categories; GMO and commercially grown hybrids. tomato,tomatoes

GMO vegetables or 'Genetically Modified Organisms' are plants that have had their DNA tampered with. For instance, to make a vegetable that is more frost resistant you may have to splice some cold water fish genes into it's DNA (actually, something like this has really been done).

The problem is that even though we have mapped entire genetic structures we really have no idea what specific genes do...they act differently in different locations and can be triggered or changed due to environmental stress or by the presence of other genes. So splicing genes from one organism to another is really just a 'crap shoot'.

The third category, commercially grown hybrids, are plants cross-bred and selected over many generations to look nice and travel well and, unfortunately, to taste bland.

Within these 3 categories are distinct sub-categories: determinate, indeterminate and semi-determinate. Determinate types are those that flower and produce fruit then stop producing and die. They tend to be smaller, bushy plants.

Indeterminates are those that produce and keep on producing until the plant is killed - usually by frost. Most modern commercially grown varieties are indeterminates and tend to grow into taller, vine-type plants that need to be staked up or they will fall over. Semi-determinates produce smaller and smaller yields after the first yield and are not as tall as indeterminates.

Since each of the 3 main categories contain determinate, indeterminate and semi-determinate varieties, you need to be aware of just what you are getting...


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