A Memorable Tomato

Updated: Aug 25, 2019

Most people my age know where they were when they heard about the assassination of President Kennedy, and those who are younger recall the moment the Twin Towers went down. Those are big moments in history worth remembering.

On a less historic scale, most of us also remember personal life events. However, I'm betting that few remember when they tasted their first really good tomato. I do -- and it's one reason why I love Ken's full-flavor approach to farming.

I was only six years old the summer the tomato man came driving into the front yard of my grandfather's ranch. My family was visiting my mother's childhood home in San Luis Obispo County, as we did each summer. It was hard-scrabble country. The water was alkaline, so we had to haul jugs from the nearby town for drinking water. Granddad raised cattle and dry-farmed barley. Grandma hand-watered a few prize iris, but vegetable gardening was out of the question.

That afternoon, the man got down from the cab of his truck, which was loaded down with big crates of tomatoes. I was shy, so I hid behind my Granddad's legs while they talked. That protection vanished when Granddad went to get his wallet to buy a crate.

This large stranger looked down at me and boomed, "Ever had a field ripe tomato?" I shook my head. He took out a big pocket knife, sliced into a bright red tomato, and held it out to me. I shook my head no again and mumbled, "No thanks." He paid no attention. Suddenly the slice was in my hand, oozing sticky juice. I opened my mouth reluctantly.

I can still recall the moment with startling clarity. The warm sun beating down on my head; the sharp fragrance of the ripe tomato; the blissful sweetness flooding my tongue. Wow. Is that what a tomato was supposed to taste like?

Ken's produce invariably reminds me of that moment, an innocent time in my life so many decades ago. It's one reason I embraced this post-retirement adventure called Full Flavor Farm!


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