“I have just finished reading Tomatoland, by Barry Estabrook, and learned a great deal – most of it not very nice – about how Floridians grow most of the tomatoes we eat when local ones are not available.
Most of the book is about the workers who are exploited. Many are illegal immigrants from Mexico and other Central American countries and because they are afraid of being caught, they are open to exploitation. Some are literally slaves – bought and sold by “owners”, living in squalid conditions and never earning enough to get out of debt.
The tomatoes grow on sand, so all of the nutrients are supplied, mainly as chemical fertilizer. There is a hardpan layer below the sand which holds rainwater and irrigation water; if there’s too much, the fields are drained; if there’s not enough, they are irrigated. Continue reading