Brilliant reader highlights crappy federal tomato scandal.

by John Kass

With America determined to jump off a cliff, sometimes I just feel like giving up and watching something nice for a change:

Like backyard tomatoes ripening on the vine.

I stare at those tomatoes with a vacant, yet somewhat pleased expression on my face, like the face of a blissful idiot. All I’d need is a tuba player.

Backyard home grown tomatoes are delicious. Americans love them. Even commies like them. You really can’t buy them in stores. Store-bought tomatoes are cardboard garbage and humans comprehend this universal truth.

Tomatoes don’t tell you how to live your life. Tomatoes don’t ask anything of anyone. Just water.

And now I’ve got a tomato guy who grows his own backyard beauties, like the ones in the photograph.

About this tomato guy: For years he’s been without a garden. But his wife–a beautiful, loving woman of Sicilian ancestry–let him take the sunny part of her backyard and put in a proper vegetable garden. Roses, too.

Sometimes, my tomato guy lets me to sit at the edge of his garden, to enjoy a fine maduro cigar, listen to music of the Baroque or a good podcast—you know the one I mean—and enjoy these last warm days.

My tomato guy guards his privacy. He and his wife don’t want to discuss the how and why of his garden. Let’s respect their privacy, OK?

But the other day, I was sitting out there watching the tomatoes at the tomato guy’s garden, listening to Mozart, and checking on Facebook when I ran into a post I was tagged in by reader Donalee Westler about the government and tomatoes.

I love it when readers send their ideas on column topics. They don’t have to be about gardening. They can be on just about any subject. Because we’re in this thing together, you and me, on this  great adventure here at

Donalee thought I might like her idea. I do.

Thanks, Donalee.

The post was about the federal government spending $1.5 million of your money to find out why store-bought tomatoes taste like crap, and what they can do to make them taste less crappy.

Sen. Rand Paul, the stubborn Kentucky Republican noted this idiotic waste of money in his periodic series called “Waste Report.”

It’s called: “You say tomato, I say waste.”

In his “Waste Report,” Paul notes that the feds spent over a million dollars to study American’s online dating habits, and almost a million to study the risky sex habits of Japanese quail. What’s next, shrimp on a treadmill?

A million here, a million there, a billion here, a billion there, a trillion here, a trillion there and you know what happens? Our children are on the road to serfdom.

“Tomatoes not quite tasting like they used to?” the senator says in his report. “Don’t worry. Your tax dollars are on the case, with the National Science Foundation (NSF) spending over $1.5 million to research how to improve a tomato’s flavor.

Yes, tomatoes are big agribusiness worth billions of dollars a year, in ketchup, in sauces.

But the government is a stupid fool to want to make store bought or commercially grown tomatoes taste better. It can’t be done.

According to Paul’s “Waste Report”:

“Apparently the research found that modern tomatoes are less tasty because they have less sugar and other flavorful chemicals. Wait … sugar will make something taste better?”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says that most commercially grown tomatoes are processed into sauces, juices, and ketchup.

“One might ask why Uncle Sam is funding better tasting tomatoes and not Heinz, Papa John’s, or Campbell’s?”


My theory: Because some politician bought by the crappy commercial tomato lobby talked to some federal bureaucrat, who wants to get a nice tomato consulting gig after they retire. And we get to pay for it.

I’ll save taxpayers all that money with a few simple words:

The reason why commercially grown tomatoes don’t taste very good is simple: They’re picked green. They’re modified to have thick skins to make them easier to ship. That’s why they taste like crap. And when they’re processed, sugar is thrown in to make them fasty: i.e., fake tasty.

You want a delicious tomato without sugar? Grow your own or do what I did and make friends with a tomato guy:

Can some. Make sauce. Freeze some. Make the classic TLB (tomato, bacon, and lettuce) sandwich and savor them so you’ll remember in the winter.

Slice them and put good olive oil on them, a pinch of salt, oregano, and pepper. Put a slice of tomato on a slice of toasted Italian bread, with fresh mozzarella and a basil leaf.

Or make yemista–stuffed tomatoes with rice, ancient spices, and ground beef—and you can also make them vegetarian style without meat. When Betty makes yemista, there aren’t any left to freeze.

We’re coming to the end of the backyard tomato season. And don’t tell me about hydroponic tomatoes that taste almost as good in February, or sunny-climate tomatoes with walls thick enough to sole your shoes.

They taste crappy because they are crappy. Deal with it.

When backyard tomatoes are done, they’re done.

And when you’re done, you’re done. Me too. That’s how it works. We can’t reboot or respawn ourselves.

But if we’re lucky enough to make it to spring, we can again plant tasty tomatoes. So, enjoy them now.

The only thing that lasts forever are those wasteful idiots in Washington.

And that never ends.


(Copyright 2021 John Kass)

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