The parable of the tomatoes

Reflections on my great tomato ideological experiment that I blogged about earlier, in which I compared my garden experience with a heritage tomato (representing crunchy, traditionalist conservatism) to a hybrid tomato (representing progressive, free market conservatism). . . .

Both tomatoes fulfilled their nature. The hybrid was bigger, stronger, produced more fruit, and that earlier. The agri-scientists were breeding tomato plants for just these qualities, and they were successful. Such advances in botany have made starvation technologically obsolete, though starvation still happens out of political and economic dysfunctions. The heritage plant was unimproved. Progress is progress. Tradition, though, has its virtues.

Those who go the traditionalist way can expect to be beleaguered, hard-pressed, and to remain small scale. Success will take more work than going along with the times. The fruit, though, will be worth it.

I suspect this holds true for gardening, for politics, for life styles, and for religion.

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.

  • EGK

    Taste tests can be subjective. A few weeks ago I saw Penn and Teller’s episode of Bull**** dealing with organic foods. Very informative, though they go out of their way with language (Penn’s) and nudity (neither Penn’s nor Teller’s) to make sure the show is “adults only”, since it is on one of the pay cable networks. But as they discussed the “benefits” of organic foods, they did note that simply telling someone that something is “organically grown” will make it taste better to them. In the blind taste tests they administered to organic enthusiasts, the tasters could not tell any difference in taste, or else they ended up choosing the hybrids as more flavorful. It was quite interesting, when they gave them the opportunity to compare an “organically grown” banana with one produced using mass production techniques, the tasters remarked how much more flavorful the “organic” one was, only then to be told that the two samples they had tasted were from the same banana.

  • EGK

    Taste tests can be subjective. A few weeks ago I saw Penn and Teller’s episode of Bull**** dealing with organic foods. Very informative, though they go out of their way with language (Penn’s) and nudity (neither Penn’s nor Teller’s) to make sure the show is “adults only”, since it is on one of the pay cable networks. But as they discussed the “benefits” of organic foods, they did note that simply telling someone that something is “organically grown” will make it taste better to them. In the blind taste tests they administered to organic enthusiasts, the tasters could not tell any difference in taste, or else they ended up choosing the hybrids as more flavorful. It was quite interesting, when they gave them the opportunity to compare an “organically grown” banana with one produced using mass production techniques, the tasters remarked how much more flavorful the “organic” one was, only then to be told that the two samples they had tasted were from the same banana.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I believe that, to truly get a taste of free market conservatism, you really should try a tomato in the middle of January. Nice and white in the middle, with a hint of chalk. Shipped in from Argentina, it was picked at the peak of greenness, then lovingly gassed to make it turn red, if not juicy.

    All because consumers that are no longer familiar with nature and the growing season demand tomatoes in the middle of January. Mmm.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I believe that, to truly get a taste of free market conservatism, you really should try a tomato in the middle of January. Nice and white in the middle, with a hint of chalk. Shipped in from Argentina, it was picked at the peak of greenness, then lovingly gassed to make it turn red, if not juicy.

    All because consumers that are no longer familiar with nature and the growing season demand tomatoes in the middle of January. Mmm.

  • Arfies

    Fresh, locally grown, truly ripe tomatoes are available right now in our area (and most areas, I’m sure), and they are luscious. We love ‘em!
    The rest of the year, we make do with cherry or grape tomatoes, or Del Monte tomato wedges. Yes, the wedges are canned and kind of small; but for salads they are wonderful because they have so much flavor. You never get that from so-called “vine tomatoes” that come from some laboratory somewhere (presided over by Dr. Frankenstein or Dr. Jekyll, perhaps).

  • Arfies

    Fresh, locally grown, truly ripe tomatoes are available right now in our area (and most areas, I’m sure), and they are luscious. We love ‘em!
    The rest of the year, we make do with cherry or grape tomatoes, or Del Monte tomato wedges. Yes, the wedges are canned and kind of small; but for salads they are wonderful because they have so much flavor. You never get that from so-called “vine tomatoes” that come from some laboratory somewhere (presided over by Dr. Frankenstein or Dr. Jekyll, perhaps).

  • http://gollygeeez.blogspot.com/ Z

    Tomatoes are always best in season, as is most everything else. Thank goodness we have a free market, though, through which people can buy those grotty non-tomato flavored nothings if they wish. I don’t. But, why take away their choice or make it mandatory that they can’t have tomatoes in February? And, thank goodness for free market farmer markets…..great to see them competing and selling really fresh, wonderful product.
    EGK..great story about the bananas. And so typical of what Americans are buying into these days on so many different subjects. The marketing’s all they care about “ORGANIC…COOL!” OH? Not so cool?

  • http://gollygeeez.blogspot.com/ Z

    Tomatoes are always best in season, as is most everything else. Thank goodness we have a free market, though, through which people can buy those grotty non-tomato flavored nothings if they wish. I don’t. But, why take away their choice or make it mandatory that they can’t have tomatoes in February? And, thank goodness for free market farmer markets…..great to see them competing and selling really fresh, wonderful product.
    EGK..great story about the bananas. And so typical of what Americans are buying into these days on so many different subjects. The marketing’s all they care about “ORGANIC…COOL!” OH? Not so cool?

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

    The new-fangled ways may just be fads in the long run, but they will sure turn some heads.

    Those traditional tomatoes will outlast them and offer much more authentic flavor.

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

    The new-fangled ways may just be fads in the long run, but they will sure turn some heads.

    Those traditional tomatoes will outlast them and offer much more authentic flavor.

  • James

    I REALLY liked this lesson, Dr. Veith. Very cool and thought provoking! The imagery has stuck with me.

  • James

    I REALLY liked this lesson, Dr. Veith. Very cool and thought provoking! The imagery has stuck with me.

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