Tomatoes: The taste of summer

By Wendell Fowler

OK… you have a glut of juicy, sweet tomatoes coming off your vines and neighbors keep gifting you their over-abundance. What are you going to do with all them? Personally, because they’re only obtainable in the good old summertime, I pig out on what the French call, “love apples” by smothering wedges in fresh picked basil, garlic and olive oil, alongside my Indiana sweet corn and crispy cucumber salad and will eventually make raw salsa and simmer up a big batch of tomato sauce for the freezer so that in winter I can taste summer.

But first, how much do you know about tomato nutrition? Because you were not taught in school that plant foods from the earth’s garden are the ultimate source of essential vitamins your temple needs daily to function, grow and repair, you may be vitamin deficient, which can foster many of today’s chronic diseases. It’s like not putting fuel in your car and expecting it to take you across town. After a lecture last winter, I was astonished when a lovely lady approached me to say, “I love reading your column. You taught me vitamins came from plants.”

Studies have found links between fresh tomatoes, tomato products and fewer incidences of prostate, lung and stomach cancers. The NIH informs that tomatoes are a good source of vitamin C, an essential nutrient and antioxidant. One medium sized tomato can provide about 28 percent of the RDA. The potassium in tomatoes is an essential mineral beneficial for blood pressure control and cardiovascular disease prevention. Tomatoes’ vitamin K1 is important for blood coagulation and bone health. And folate, one of the B vitamins important for normal tissue growth and cell function, is particularly important for pregnant women.

They are especially high in a red pigment antioxidant called lycopene, a plant compound linked to improved heart health, cancer prevention and protection against sunburns. It is found in the highest amounts in tomato products, such as ketchup, tomato juice and tomato-based sauces.

My life mission is to be a ray of hope. To advance your gift to create health. To teach how crucial it is to get vitamins from food so you can bud and blossom. So, stuff them, slice them, dice them, roast them and toss chunks into endless varieties of summertime dishes. Please wake up and smell the tomatoes. They were divienly provided for you with vitamins on those thick green vines that activate your innate, inner intelligence.