Visalia is right in the thermal belt of California’s Central Valley, allowing for a lengthy tomato growing season. Without the use of a hothouse, Visalia’s Farmers Market vendors can grow tomatoes outdoors naturally from late February to early December.
So that means July is smack dab in the middle of tomato season! This is exciting news for tomato lovers and Farmer’s Market goers! Take a moment to check out these fun facts and test YOUR tomato IQ!
DID YOU KNOW…?
– California produces 96% of the tomatoes processed in the U.S. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says there are over 25,000 tomato varieties!
– Botanically speaking, a tomato is a fruit, but the United States government classified it as a vegetable in the late 1800s so it could be taxed under custom regulations.
– Tomatoes are the most popular backyard gardener’s favorite foods! A whopping 93% of American gardeners grow tomatoes in their yards.
– Tomatoes are thought to originate in Peru. The name comes from the Aztec “xitomatl,” which means “plump thing with a navel”. However, the scientific name for the tomato is Lycopersicon lycopersicum, which means, “wolf peach.”
– Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, an antioxidant that is good for the heart and effective against certain cancers.
– Cooked tomatoes are actually better for you than raw ones, as more beneficial chemicals are released. Tomatoes are also packed with vitamins A and C, calcium, potassium.
– Eating cooked tomatoes may act as a kind of internal sunscreen, according to researchers at the Universities of Manchester and Newcastle, England, by helping block UV rays. (But eating tomatoes is only a supplement to using sunscreens, they caution, not a replacement.)
If you haven’t yet, be sure to stop by the Visalia Farmers Market to stock up on some local, fresh, in-season tomatoes!