Zambolis apartments

Zambolis apartments
For your holidays in Chania

Friday, 18 January 2008

To eat or not to eat? (Τί τρώμε)

My bachelor uncles are the only people I know that eat only food that is in season - they grow it all themselves in their gardens, and if it doesn't grow in their fields, they simply do without. All they buy are the staples that they can't produce - some fish, rice, pasta, bread, coffee, sugar and occassionally meat (they rear chickens and rabbits). But I don't know many people who do this. I know I would like to do this, but the temptation to eat things we don't produce ourselves is just too great, especially when you are presented with so much at the supermarket (my downfall).

And now, we're down to the last of the summer wine, meaning the last of our home-grown garden tomatos. Alas, there is only one more tomato left in the fridge.Woe to us! Which of the two evils should we now prefer - to buy greenhouse tomatos or to use tinned tomatos with a bit of tomato paste thrown in? There is really not much esle you can do. Hothouse tomatos look as though they have been chemically grown (look at the size of them). Tomato paste claims to be 100% pure tomato without preservatives, and the same goes for the fresh tetrapak of pulped tomato puree. It doesn't seem, therefore logical to prefer the fresh tomato, unless it's organically grown; but even then it still contains chemicals, because tomatos simply do not grow in winter. A certified amount of permitted chemicals will be involved in its growth. The packaging states that the tomatos have been grown "with respect to the environment and the consumer" and "without toxic pesticides, genetically modified seeds, chemical fertilisers or hormones."

Greenhouses in Crete are located very close to the seashore, so any run-off goes straight into the place where you go swimming. Believe what you like. I don't believe the organic tomatos were grown completely naturally - they were completely tasteless. They cost approximately 65 euro-cents each, whereas the 500g-monster cost half that price. But doesn't that hothouse junkfood look delicious! Big, red, firm, unblemished - what more could you want from a tomato? Its purely organic counterpart (our last garden tomato) is a sorry sight, unable to compete against it, neither in terms of size or colour. As for taste, computers haven't yet been programmed to give off aromas. I shall leave that to my eaters.

©All Rights Reserved/Organically cooked. No part of this blog may be reproduced and/or copied by any means without prior consent from Maria Verivaki.

See also:
GAIA (fresh organic produce)
Summer fruit
Taste sensationalism
Eating locally
A peek into someone's fridge
The street market


  1. Hi Maria, Your post was very enlightening. Do tomatoes (or anything else) get extra chemicals when they are in greenhouses? Until now I thought that it was the same in winter and in summer.

  2. They get heaps of chemicals. They can't grow without them.

  3. I've spent a huge amount of time thinking about this issue because I obviously live where tomatoes don't grow. We've taste tested and taste tested and, for us, the answer unequivocally is to use canned tomatoes (I buy a good brand of organic ones). They are picked and processed at the height of their flavor, and are quite tasty. Especially in sauces or stews or dishes where the tomatoes are cooked it makes a huge differences to use the canned tomatoes, rather than the tasteless supermarket tomato masqueraders that look like tomatoes and taste like sawdust. Not that I have an opinion or anything...

  4. PS: In Greece, we've frozen tomatoes whole in the summer to use in the winter. That works too. Also at the end of the season, when there are still green tomatoes on the vine, but the season is changing, we chop down the entire plant, green tomatoes and all, and hang them upside down in the apothiki. They slowly ripen over time and still keep their flavor.

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  6. Thanks for the advice; i remember when i visited my mother's first home in the village, I saw tomatos hanging upside down fromt he rafters. That was their way of preserving them in older times, a tradition you are obviously maintaining. I feel the same way about fresh tomatos - canned tomatos are tastier, cost less and do less damage environentally than growing tomatoes with chemical substances in the wrong season.