Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Are we not tomatoes?

There's a book review in today's "New York Times" that is about tomatoes but is really about creativity. You can read it here. The meat of the matter is that the tomato-industrial complex through its size, strength and dominant market position has changed the tomato fundamentally and for the worst.

Winter tomatoes, almost all those sold in America, come from the nutrient-free sandy soil of southern Florida. There, to compensate for the lack of sustenance they get naturally, these hard greenish-pink balls--uniformly sized for efficient packing--are grown in soil pumped full of chemical fertilizers... [they] can blast the plants with more than 100 different herbicides and pesticides, including some of the most toxic in agribusiness’s arsenal.

"...It’s no wonder generations of Americans have grown up thinking tomatoes were a fraud perpetrated by God, their parents or Taco Bell. I remember biting into one of these objects in a salad and thinking: Now there’s a supposedly tasty thing I’ll never eat again."

Much of the work we create in our industry is similarly synthetic, artificial and tasteless. But it will last long on a shelf. It is infused with dumbness like "rule the air," or "I like it in the can." It is offensive in its lack of taste. It reflects poorly on all associated with it.

(99% of Hollywood is no different. Advertising and other "creative" pursuits are industrialized. Humanity with all its quirks and nuance has been removed as thoroughly as a less than round aberrant tomato.)

Rage against the tomato. Rage against airlines calling certain seats "comfort plus," (what are their other seats? Comfort minus?) Rage against the dumb, prescribed and tepid.

Have we, thanks to HR and their proscriptions, thanks to our worries about staying employed become like industrial tomatoes? We're uniform. We don't dent. We are artificial. And tasteless.

It's time to fall off the truck and seek to ripen in the sun.


Tore Claesson said...

Each summer we buy a truck load of ripe organic tomatoes from a farm in Pennsylvania. Three familes gather for an entire long day. We peel, smash, cook and jar the tomatoes.
In a most oldfashioend way. We have great tasting basic tomato sauce for a year. Down to my last 5 jars now. But soon we will do it again.
Got nothing to do with advertising. Just tomatoes.
And eating well. And really, it only tskes a day. I don't know if it turns out cheaper than buying the industriual shit in supermarkets. But it certainly tastes a whole lot better, and hopeful it's a tad bit more healthy.

Laura said...

The best tomatoes I've ever had came from the farmer's market in Santa Monica. They even give out samples there so you can taste the different varieties and see how great they taste.

In advertising, shouldn't a pitch give a sample of the flavor they'll bring to a client in the future? Probably pretty idealistic- I know.