I Like Tomatoes – and its British Tomato Week

This week is British Tomato Week, so I thought that I would draw your attention to the excellent fruits grown on the Isle of Wight.

Although the title is hotly disputed and depends on how you measure it, the Isle of Wight is certainly among the sunniest places in the UK. More importantly (as direct sunlight can be a mixed blessing - see below) the Isle experiences very few frosts - being surrounded by sea and all that (the clue’s in the name). All in all the climate is ideal for growing tomatoes. 

#BritishTomatoWeek is right at the heart of the tomato growing season, and now is a great time to be enjoying Isle of Wight tomatoes, which are famed for their flavour. Apparently, the big advice for this British Tomato Week is to not keep your tomatoes in the fridge, as it impairs the flavour… I know this to be true, though like a lot of foodie advice not always easy as part of a modern lifestyle - so at least bring them out for an hour or so before you eat them. This is one reason British (or local) tomatoes taste good - because they don’t need to be refrigerated for a long trip. My own advice is buy them on the vine (or truss as tomato folk say).

As an MEP, I’ve been listening to the concerns of the agriculture sector. Access to seasonal workers and the ability to sell their produce quickly and efficiently is key to the famers and food producers I have been meeting. While it would be better to stop Brexit altogether, I’ll also work for an outcome that avoids the huge queues at ports and airports and allows farmers to find the key staff needed to help them harvest their crops at the key times that they need to. I was brought up to hate the notion of food going to waste - and tales of fruit rotting on the vine for want of pickers makes me genuinely angry.

Isle of Wight farmers already time their harvesting to allow easy access to the Ferry to get their crops to the UK mainland and moving the produce to the EU adds more uncertainty and time to a process where ensuring that the tomatoes are at their peak is essential.

As a footnote I would add that I very much like tomatoes. In fact I eat tomatoes most days. My Dad grew them in the greenhouse - he saved up for it for ages got it to pursue his favourite hobby. He grew his tomatoes through ring culture on boiler ash I enjoyed helping water them (One full watering can every night for each ring and potash based feed once a week - one pint directly into each ring) - we had to make our own entertainment in those days. We would then be able to eat the smaller ones straight off the vine - absolutely at their best. Too much direct sunlight/heat at the wrong time can be a problem as it can cause ‘white wall or greenback’ - where the tomato fails to ripen through - this is why you can often see the top of tomato glass houses whitewashed or with shades fitted. 

Tomatoes are also meant to be very good for you - especially for men, where they are linked to nutrients that are thought to help inhibit prostate cancer. You can read more about the health benefits here if you like. 

In the meantime that’s quite enough about tomatoes. Have a good weekend.