Eat Local: Tomatoes
Eating locally-sourced food has many advantages, including helping the local economy and protecting natural resources. Typically, local food is also fresher than food that has travelled many miles. It may not be possible to always eat local, but fortunately Florida residents have access to a variety of in-season produce grown close to home.
The tomato, which is one crop that’s grown in Florida, is available every month of the year except July and August. Although the majority of tomatoes are harvested in Central and South Florida, Northwest Florida is also an important tomato producer. Tomatoes are versatile—they can be used in a number of recipes, and they can be cooked or used in salads.
Florida tomatoes have various nutritional benefits, including the following:
- Tomatoes are high in vitamin C, which helps to heal cuts and also keeps teeth and gums healthy.
- They’re also a good source of vitamin A—a vitamin that protects against infections and helps maintain normal vision and healthy skin.
- Tomatoes are high in lycopene, which acts as an antioxidant and helps protect cells from oxygen damage.
- These vegetables are naturally cholesterol and fat free. They are also low in calories and sodium.
- Tomatoes are a good source of potassium, which helps control blood pressure.
How to Select Florida Tomatoes
Choose fresh, unrefrigerated tomatoes, as they have the more flavor. Select tomatoes that are slightly soft and avoid ones with bruises, cracks, soft spots, sunken areas, or mold. If you purchase unripe tomatoes, be sure to put them in a warm area or brown paper bag to help them ripen.
Contact the UF/IFAS Extension office in your county for more information on local food in your area.
Related Sites & Articles
- Hot Topics
- Community Supported Agriculture
- Starting a Farmers Market
- UF/IFAS Sites
- Local Food
- Other Sites & Publications
- Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food--USDA
- Local Food Resources--ATTRA
- Local and Regional Food Systems--ATTRA