Tomato Times

This blog documents the Tomato War and all other Tomato and Fluxus related topics. Published by Nobody Press. Directed by Litsa Spathi.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Our History

CROP HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT

Wild type tomato species are thought to be native the region of western South America and specifically in the dry coastal desert of Peru. First historical reference in Europe to the tomato was a yellow fruited type in Italy in 1544, cultivation in Germany in 1553. The Italians may have acquired it from the Turks. The tomato may have first been grown in Spain then taken to Italy where it was called "pomi d'oro" or golden apple, because of its yellow color. The French called it "poma amaris" or apple of love. The American Indians used the name "tomatl." The tomato was not very popular until the 18th century mainly because of rumors that had labeled it as a poisonous fruit. It is suggested that certain famines during this century forced people to try this plant, because by the middle of the century the tomato was much more popular. The tomato was introduced into the United States in 1710. By 1779 it was used in catsup in New Orleans. Thomas Jefferson grew tomatoes in Virginia. But as late as 1900 the tomato was still considered poisonous. George Washington Carver was known for standing in front of crowds and eating tomatoes, trying to introduce tomatoes into the diet. The tomato originated in South America due to the wild species found from Ecuador to Chile. This means the tomato traveled from South America to Europe before arriving in the United States. L. esculentum is probably derived from Lycopersicon pimpinellifolium which is indigenous to Peru and Ecuador. L. esculentum var. cerasiforme (cherry tomato) is considered a wild plant in the tropics and subtropics. There is also evidence that tomatoes originated in Mexico. These tomatoes show a great diversity in size and shape and include all color types known which are pink, red, and yellow. The cherry tomato is widely used in Mexico and has many Indiana names. The Nah uatl language of Mexico used the name "tomatl" which has followed the plant through Europe and South America. Mexico would be a logical origin since Cortez conquered Mexico in 1519, tomatoes could have easily found their way to Italy by 1544. There are still arguments as to the origin of the tomato.

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