It's July 10, 2011. I was on the back roads to church this morning, and watching the field hands picking tomatoes for use at our local J. B. Hunt plant in Newport. Tennessee is a big grower of tomatoes and tobacco. This year, more tomoato fields have been claimed, and some of the corn and other crops normally grown have been replaced with the red veggies. Oh, excuse me, green veggies. These fields are set up in early spring with long rows of raised white plastic beds, each tomato is inserted through a small opening, and as they grow they are staked, and tied.
Today, picking has begun. But the tomatoes are green. And dozens of discards litter the ground, not good enough to meet the canning standards I am thinking. Here's where the brain kicked in this morning, When I buy a can of tomato sauce or paste, its red, not green. So how do green tomatoes become the sauce, paste and spaghetti sauce we buy that are bright red?
Did a little research and found that not only tomatoes but almost every other fruit and vegetable we buy are ripened in chambers filled with ethylene gas. A person can have extreme difficulty breathing if exposed to this gas in concentrated amounts. And yet it can permeate concrete walls. Its also highly explosive in high concentrations. If you would like to read this for yourself, and see the very long list of chemically ripened fruit and vegetables, go to: ethylenegas.com/ethylene.htm. You may never look at a mango or orange the same way again. There is also some good information at Wikipedia.org on ethylene gas. Well worth the reading. We have so used this ripening process that we have now created ethylene resistant tomatoes that will no longer ripe in the gas filled rooms.
For many years, I have picked the last of the crop of tomatoes and wrapped them in newspaper, placing each one in a paper bag and putting the bag in a dark closet, therefore being able to eat ripe tomatoes as late as December and January, now I find I was creating my own ethylene gas, and that was causing them to ripen. This is a very slow process done at home, and doesn't scare me into not doing it anymore. But I am now looking at what I buy at the market in a can, in a whole new light. I wonder what effect this has on our health in the long run, anyone with good information would be welcome to enlighten me. One more interesting website you might want to check is :http://plantphys.info/plantphysiology/ehtylene.shtm. Thanks for loaning me your ear.