Chicago Sun-Times
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Yes, we have no tomatoes

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Oh, the precious pomodori.

Maybe you've noticed the signs on the doors or the notes attached to the menus and ordering areas of your favorite eateries recently that say, in effect, "We have no tomatoes," or "We're low on tomatoes."

This past weekend I saw such a notice at the counter of a Subway shop. The note advised customers that there is a weather-related shortage of tomatoes and the restaurant might not be able to supply tomatoes for your sandwich. Despite the warning, though, the particular Subway I visited Sunday night had plenty of tomatoes on hand. Apparently Subway has changed the type of tomato they use and is also getting some from Mexico, instead of Florida, whose tomato growers were hit hard by bad weather this winter. But Mexico has also suffered from an unusual cold snap that has affected tomato-growing.

At Potbelly, I found a not affixed to a catering menu that explained "the recent cold weather across North America has had a severe impact on the availability, quality and cost of tomatoes. Due to these factors, we will temporarily cease to offer tomatoes on your sandwich. As soon as the tomato crop returns to normal we will add them back to your sandwiches."

From October to June, Florida produces about half the tomatoes consumed in the United States.

Of course, let's hope that for the sake of the people whose livelihoods depend upon growing and selling tomatoes the market returns to normal soon, but at the same time, is it really such a hardship if, not even a couple weeks after we were buried under a couple feet of snow and then suffered through below zero temperatures, we have to wait a little while longer or pay a bit more for a tomato?

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Janet Rausa Fuller

Sun-Times Food editor Janet Rausa Fuller is always thinking about her next meal.

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This page contains a single entry by James Scalzitti published on February 28, 2011 8:32 PM.

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