The great tomato ideological experiment

What is the best kind of conservatism? Crunchy-conservatism (the natural order, tradition, Wendell Berry, community, rural, decentralization, eating locally, small businesses, small-is-beautiful)? Or free market conservatism (technology, progress, Adam Smith, the individual, urban, centralization, eating globally, big corporations, big-is-better)?

I devised an experiment to answer the question scientifically. In May, I planted two tomato plants side by side. One was a heritage tomato (a natural, uncontaminated strain from the olden days). That embodies crunchy-conservatism. The other was a hybrid tomato (scientifically bred by an agri-corporation). That embodies free market conservatism. I gave them the same amount of water and other attention. I would see which tomato is the best, and that would tell me which is the better ideology.

The hybrid sprung up as a big bush. The heritage grew into a small, scrawny vine. The hybrid produced an abundance of tomatoes. They ripened far earlier than they were supposed to. The heritage finally grew three hard little green balls that refused to ripen. We have been enjoying the hybrids for weeks, but finally one of the heritage tomatoes turned red.

I set up an elaborately controlled blind taste test. My wife could not tell the difference. I could. Though it was close, I thought one of them had a better flavor. It turned out to be. . .(drumroll, please). . . the heritage tomato! Thus it is proven that crunchy-conservatism is the superior ideology.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Rose

    Delightful result!

  • Rose

    Delightful result!

  • Joe

    depending on what your objective is of course. Your experiment proved that both are better depending upon the desired result.

  • Joe

    depending on what your objective is of course. Your experiment proved that both are better depending upon the desired result.

  • Carl Vehse

    This should have been a double-blind test.

    A single-blind test involving your wife is suspect since from your long marriage she no doubt picked up on your non-verbal signals, and wisely made a non-committal response.

    And based on the number of tomatoes sampled and tested, the standard deviation is probably rather large.

    Have you checked the American Society for Testing and Materials for their tomato-tasting standard test method?

  • Carl Vehse

    This should have been a double-blind test.

    A single-blind test involving your wife is suspect since from your long marriage she no doubt picked up on your non-verbal signals, and wisely made a non-committal response.

    And based on the number of tomatoes sampled and tested, the standard deviation is probably rather large.

    Have you checked the American Society for Testing and Materials for their tomato-tasting standard test method?

  • WebMonk

    ROTFLOL!!! Veith, that’s hilarious!

    Yup, that crunchy-conservatism certainly kicked the free-market-conservatism’s butt!

  • WebMonk

    ROTFLOL!!! Veith, that’s hilarious!

    Yup, that crunchy-conservatism certainly kicked the free-market-conservatism’s butt!

  • Orianna Laun

    Yet which taste better with basil, balsamic, and some fresh mozzarella? Or maybe that is what gives the other it’s flair, while one can be savored on its own with nothing but a little fresh-ground pepper. . .

  • Orianna Laun

    Yet which taste better with basil, balsamic, and some fresh mozzarella? Or maybe that is what gives the other it’s flair, while one can be savored on its own with nothing but a little fresh-ground pepper. . .

  • DonS

    LOL!! Yes, as long as you don’t mind waiting and you’re not too hungry, I guess.

  • DonS

    LOL!! Yes, as long as you don’t mind waiting and you’re not too hungry, I guess.

  • utahrainbow

    But which will provide seeds that will be fruitful NEXT year and the next? I think you need an experiment with a longer view…

  • utahrainbow

    But which will provide seeds that will be fruitful NEXT year and the next? I think you need an experiment with a longer view…

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com/ Steve Martin

    Heritage sure beats the astro-turf varieties, popping up in the minds of some Dem. politicians.

    I’d love to see them get some home grown ‘mators right in the kisser.

    Oh…wait a minute…that fun is reserved for the tolerant liberal crowd that inhabit our universities.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com/ Steve Martin

    Heritage sure beats the astro-turf varieties, popping up in the minds of some Dem. politicians.

    I’d love to see them get some home grown ‘mators right in the kisser.

    Oh…wait a minute…that fun is reserved for the tolerant liberal crowd that inhabit our universities.

  • Ryan

    Heritage always needs the proper environment (lots manure!) and a bit of know how – hard to do from scratch (Think of trying to do the Liturgy from Scratch), Plus did you get the best for your region, Heritage is regional.

    Many hybrids types are meant to grow anywhere – kinda like weeds.

    Question: The heritage can produce more – you can harvest the seeds. Is your hybrid reproducible or is it sterile like so many modern engineered plants?

  • Ryan

    Heritage always needs the proper environment (lots manure!) and a bit of know how – hard to do from scratch (Think of trying to do the Liturgy from Scratch), Plus did you get the best for your region, Heritage is regional.

    Many hybrids types are meant to grow anywhere – kinda like weeds.

    Question: The heritage can produce more – you can harvest the seeds. Is your hybrid reproducible or is it sterile like so many modern engineered plants?

  • http://www.oldsolar.com/currentblog.php Rick Ritchie

    I have never liked raw tomatoes. Neither has my dad. We agree with the late George Carlin. “You look inside a tomato and something is wrong….It looks like it’s in the larval stage of something. There’s thousands of seeds and a whole bunch of jelly-looking stuff. Wlahhh, wlahhh, wlahhh,” he shudders a whole body shudder. So I have a question. Are markets better when they’re roasted? I hope not. I think you can love marinara without agreeing with the Stimulus Package.

  • http://www.oldsolar.com/currentblog.php Rick Ritchie

    I have never liked raw tomatoes. Neither has my dad. We agree with the late George Carlin. “You look inside a tomato and something is wrong….It looks like it’s in the larval stage of something. There’s thousands of seeds and a whole bunch of jelly-looking stuff. Wlahhh, wlahhh, wlahhh,” he shudders a whole body shudder. So I have a question. Are markets better when they’re roasted? I hope not. I think you can love marinara without agreeing with the Stimulus Package.

  • Pinon Coffee

    I love the experiment!

  • Pinon Coffee

    I love the experiment!

  • James Hageman

    To what shall I liken the kingdom of men? It shall be likened unto a man who planted two tomato plants . . .

  • James Hageman

    To what shall I liken the kingdom of men? It shall be likened unto a man who planted two tomato plants . . .

  • http://gollygeeez.blogspot.com/ Z

    Crunchy, definitely! Tomatoes….They’re not RED (as vs Blue States) for nothing!

  • http://gollygeeez.blogspot.com/ Z

    Crunchy, definitely! Tomatoes….They’re not RED (as vs Blue States) for nothing!

  • http://thejcalebjones.tumblr.com The Jones

    When I read first that the hybrid sprung up quick, produced a bunch of quickly ripening tomatoes, my first thought was “Ha! Hybrid wins!”

    Then I saw that the real test was a blind taste test. So, Hybrid didn’t actually win. But to make this study better, I think you should have done a blind taste test every day, one plate holding the quickly ripened Hybrid, and another empty plate representing the soon-to-be Heritage tomato. If they like Hybrid better than nothing, mark the results accordingly. Then the results should be averaged over the whole growing season.

    Yeah, as you can see, I’m definitely not a crunchy con.

  • http://thejcalebjones.tumblr.com The Jones

    When I read first that the hybrid sprung up quick, produced a bunch of quickly ripening tomatoes, my first thought was “Ha! Hybrid wins!”

    Then I saw that the real test was a blind taste test. So, Hybrid didn’t actually win. But to make this study better, I think you should have done a blind taste test every day, one plate holding the quickly ripened Hybrid, and another empty plate representing the soon-to-be Heritage tomato. If they like Hybrid better than nothing, mark the results accordingly. Then the results should be averaged over the whole growing season.

    Yeah, as you can see, I’m definitely not a crunchy con.

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