Sunday, July 24, 2011


By now you have probably figured out that I am obsessed with summer tomatoes. My last few columns have been about fresh, locally grown tomatoes. A few columns back in the winter were about longing for a good tomato. I dream about tomatoes and look forward all week long to visiting the local farmer's markets to see what new varieties are available. I buy more tomatoes than I need and give them to friends, neighbors and complete strangers. I have tomatoes for breakfast.I post photos of them on Facebook. I am obsessed.

Tomato testing at the Botanical Gardens of the Ozarks.
The editors of  The Washington County Observer,the local paper I write for are gracious enough to put up with my obsession. I imagine though they think I am a bit of a fanatic. After all, how many columns does one really want to read about tomatoes? The Maginots of Beyond Organics Farm in West Fork have been writing a few columns lately in the same paper about how to grow them. They give useful information like when to plant, how much to water, when to harvest and what to do when those prehistoric looking green tomato horn worms attack. The grow some incredible varieties and I am at the West Fork Garden Market every Saturday morning to see what lovelies they have to offer. Sometimes I'll show up at their farm during the week with a jar of honey or a bundt cake; a gesture of neighborly love. They are not fooled though. They see me peering over their fence and coveting their Chocolate Striped, Purple Cherokees, Arkansas Travellers and Black Krim. They know what I am after. They can identify a zealot when they see one.

So, this week I decided no more columns about tomatoes. Enough is enough. Then I heard about the Ozark Slow Food tomato tasting at the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks. Sixty varieties of sweet summer goodness to be sampled. Sixty! Tomato heaven! According to their website, Ozark Slow Food's mission is “to promote a sustainable farmer/consumer community and the celebration of healthy foods.” What's not to like about that? Eat local, eat slow, eat your veggies. A celebration! I even brought my own salt shaker!

Turnout was heavy with lines out the door waiting to get in. Seems there is big interest in tomatoes these days! Informational kiosks, complimentary recipes, television cameras and free tomatoes were everywhere. Varieties I had never heard of like Sun Gold, Parks Whopper, Mountain Fresh and Black Cherry were sampled. Lectures were offered. There was even balloting to name the tastiest variety. What fun! And, it's nice to know I am not the only fanatic.

But, that's it. No more columns this year about tomatoes. Enough! Besides, okra is coming into season. Think of it, fried okra, gumbo, pickled okra, okra with tomatoes. The possibilities are endless. Now, I am an okra fanatic. After all, why do anything if you can't do it to excess?

To learn more about Ozark Slow Food, please visit

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