Archives For Tomatoes


“Tomatoes Gone Bad

A review of

How Modern Industrial Agriculture
Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit
by Barry Estabrook.

Review by Alex Joyner.

How Modern Industrial Agriculture
Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit
Barry Estabrook.
Hardback: Andrews McMeel, 2011.
Buy Now:
[ Amazon – Hardback ]
[ Amazon -Kindle ]

With apologies to William Shakespeare:

What a piece of work is a store bought tomato,
how noble in color,
how infinite in shelf-life;
in form and roundness how excessive and admirable,
in inaction how like a wax dummy,
in taste how like a piece of cardboard:
the beauty of the world, the paragon of vegetables!
(or fruits, whatever)
And yet to me what is this quintessence of agriculture?
Store bought tomatoes delight not me –
nor canned neither, though by your redness you seem to say so.

There’s a hard science to growing tomatoes commercially.  In Florida it begins with acres of stretched white plastic covering long, straight mounds of raised dirt.  Underneath that plastic nutrients not native to the soil are injected in precise locations.  It ends with acres of burnt plants dotted with tomatoes that were not ripe at the harvest time and have now been left to compost.  In between growers spray dangerous chemicals, migrant laborers work in often inhumane conditions, and supermarkets treat American consumers to a product that is notable for its endurance, but certainly not its taste.

Continue Reading…


Two Recent Books on Gardening.

Like most of my American friends, I did not grow up a gardener. Unlike them, I grew up in God’s own garden, a shadowy and solemn rainforest cathedral choired by birds of paradise and guarded by poisonous vines, stink bugs, and death adders. Power chainsaws have desecrated most of the world’s rainforest temples during my own short youth, opening earth-wounds upon which farmers or palm oil companies smear the fertilizers and pesticides of agroscience, hoping to scab off fuel or a little food, survival or bio-profits, before the hard red clay puckers into dusty, sterile scars. Though many of my friends and acquaintances in Manila and Jakarta were exposed to third-eye levels of farming chemicals in childhood, few are interested in sacrificing the enticements of quick ‘n easy flower boxes for the perilous joy of a garden.


In the midst of a concrete jungle, Tim Stark and Robert Pogue Harrison have been helpful guides as I begin to discover the relationships between my dinner table, my soul, and the soil. Harrison, a professor of Italian literature at Stanford, has written the philosophical Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition. Stark, a failed freelance writer from New York City, has penned Heirloom: Notes from an Accidental Tomato Farmer, a juicily written tale of his mad affair with the tomato.

Read the full review:

Robert Pogue Harrision.

Hardcover: U of Chicago Press, 2008.
Buy Now:  [ Doulos Christou Books $20 ] [ Amazon ]


Tim Stark.
Hardcover: Broadway Books, 2008.
Buy Now:  [ Doulos Christou Books $20 ] [ Amazon ]

Music Critic Andy Whitman
Reflects on David Dark’s New Book
The Sacredness of Questioning Everything.

I write that, and quote from several sources at length, only to say that David Dark’s latest book, The Sacredness of Questioning Everything, ought to be required reading for human beings, regardless of their religious or political stripes. David Dark is one of my favorite Christian thinkers, and his earlier books Everyday Apocalypse and The Gospel According to America: A Meditation on a God-Blessed, Christ-Haunted Idea have, respectively, outlined the in-breaking of truth in popular culture, and our national overconfidence in our own righteousness. For his third book, Dark pulls out all the stops, and surveys the stories that we hear on a daily basis, stories about God and religion, our nation and its history, our self-defined passions, our sacred cows, our morality. We hear these stories in a thousand places; in television broadcasts, in classrooms, in the books we read, in our choice of friends and the viewpoints we are willing to take in, in the magazines we subscribe to, the music we listen to, the web sites we frequent. To a large extent, they define our identity.

Read the full piece:

The Sacredness of Questioning Everything.
David Dark.

Paperback: Zondervan, 2009.
Buy now: [ Doulos Christou Books $13 ] [ Amazon ]

Scott McKnight Briefly Reviews
Andrew Marin’s Love is An Orientation.

Andrew Marin has earned the right to be heard about gays and the Church. Why? His book, Love Is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation With the Gay Community , tells the story. That subtitle is what is needed next, and I think it’s the Third Way.

Some are wearied by this discussion.
Some are worked into passionate pronouncements.
Few are willing to sort out the issues, both biblical and relational, and then move into genuine Christian engagement. Andrew Marin does the latter.

Read the full review:

Love Is an Orientation:
Elevating the Conversation With the Gay Community.

Andrew Marin.

Paperback: IVP Books, 2009.
Buy now: [ Doulos Christou Books $13 ]  [ Amazon ]