Free the UglyRipe!


The government is finally doing something about the shortage of decent, affordable tomatoes in the wintertime–making it worse. The produce gatekeepers on the Florida Tomato Committee, a New Deal relic charged with judging tomato quality (a task too esoteric for consumers to handle on their own), won't allow a tasty but bumpy variety known as the UglyRipe to be shipped from the state's main growing area because they don't like the looks of it. The committee explains that its aesthetic requirements "serve to ensure customer satisfaction and improve grower returns. Not holding the UglyRipe tomato to these same standards defies orderly marketing and provides it unfair, undue marketing advantage."

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  1. I say string ’em up!

  2. My garden tomatos are ugly as shit, but they taste infinitely better than any good-looking hydroponic or genetically modified nip/tuck tomato. I would buy the ugly ones if i saw them next to good-looking ones.

    But I’m a greasy spaghetti-bender, so should know better.

  3. “Not holding the UglyRipe tomato to these same standards defies orderly marketing and provides it unfair, undue marketing advantage.”

    How would selling an food that is visually unappealling be a marketing advantage?

    I’m assuming he’s referring to the fact that they are cheaper to produce, but they would still have to overcome aesthetic issues in consomers minds.

  4. Well, it probably doesn’t meet their standards for hardiness, which were ably shown by Alton Brown putting a standard grocery store tomato in a vise and tightening it down. Of course, the strength of cardboard also goes with the taste of cardboard, which is why I don’t buy tomatoes much, even though I love the taste of a good one. They’ve basically shot themselves in the foot the same way Red Delicious apple growers did, by selecting for looks and hardiness, and hybridizing the taste right out. Now they have to ensure everyone’s tomatoes taste the same crummy way.

  5. Mmmmm. Cardboard tomatoes ripened with all-natural ethylene gas. Tasty.

  6. How can we get Two Buck Chuck wine out of Napa, CA, and not get a steenking tomato out of FLA?

  7. If the government can’t decide the proper number of tomatoes to be shipped out of Florida, how can we rely on it to decide the proper number of tomato pickers to import from Mexico?

  8. My wife insists on organic produce for much this same reason: taste. Of course, since buying organic became big business, many of the brands with “Organic” stickers are of the less-tasty varieties. And this reminds me of cane sugar in sodas: there’s a large market (even at a higher price) for the stuff, but the Food Guilds and their government stooges don’t want to confront concepts such as consumer choice and specialized markets. Are they supposed to be watchdogs or guarddogs?

  9. These are Floridians doing this.

    Where the hell is the Interstate commerce clause when you need it the most?

  10. UglyRipe is not a PC tomato? How awful!

  11. Patriot asked:
    “How would selling an food that is visually unappealling be a marketing advantage?”

    I doubt that visual appeal is a prime consideration for ketchup makers, tomato paste makers, tomato soup makers, etc., etc. The visually appealing tomatos they would have bought can then be sold in groceries.

  12. Ha! “String em up!”

    It only took me five and half hours.

  13. We’re merely cornering the tomato market, nay, the entire Vitamin C market, down here. Want a nice marinara sauce? You’ll have to meet Florida’s rather lengthly list of demands. Bwah-hah-hah.

    P.S. I can buy something called “Ugly tomatoes” at my local grocery store, but I’m not sure they’re the same thing being discussed here. The fact is, Alton (all hail “Good Eats”) is right–grocery store tomatoes are to be eschewed. Grow ’em yourself or buy ’em at a farmers’ market.

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