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British Tomato Week starts 21st May 2018

Updated: Mar 31, 2020

Last May, I enjoyed promoting British Tomato Week  at the Tonbridge Food and Drink Festival, this year I am happy to be doing the same. I love the versatility of a tomato, so many ways to serve it and such a variation of hot and cold recipes, or just eating them on their own. Colourful, juicy and sweet – I am growing a few of my own, and always think picked in the sunshine and popped in a salad there is nothing like it… Actually my daughter, when she was little, I found her  ‘cleaning  a plant’ of the cherry tomatoes, popping one after another straight into her mouth –  as they are really like sweets!

I have been looking into tomatoes and the reason we should have plenty in our diet.  “The Latin name for the cultivated tomato is Lycopersicon, or ‘wolf peach’, no doubt a reflection of the long-held belief that the tomato was poisonous; tomatoes were originally grown in Britain and the rest of Europe for their decorative leaves and fruit. (We would not advise anyone to eat the leaves or stalks of tomato plants).

The French were convinced tomatoes had aphrodisiac properties and called them pommes d’amour or love apples.

It was not until the 19th Century that commercial tomato cultivation began. The first glasshouses were built in Kent and Essex time, after large-scale production of sheet glass was developed.

Tomatoes are now the most widely grown ‘vegetable’ in the world and are cultivated as far north as Iceland and as far south as the Falkland Islands. Tomato seedlings have even been grown in Space and tomato seeds, which spent six years circling the earth in a satellite, have been compared with others which had stayed at home. No significant differences were found in the growth of plants from the two lots of seed…”

“Botanically speaking tomatoes are the fruit of the vine, just as are cucumbers, squashes, beans and peas. But in the common language of the people, all these are vegetables, which are grown in kitchen gardens and are usually served at dinner in, with or after the soup, fish or meats and not, like fruits generally, as dessert.”

Taken from website

Food Photography of the Year at the Mall Gallery – Five ways with Tomatoes…

There is more to eating British tomatoes than they taste good, they are great for your health! Tomatoes are full of health enhancing properties.

10 Health Benefits from Eating Tomatoes

1. Tomatoes are good for your skin.

Tomatoes contain a high level of lycopene, which is a substance that is used in some of the expensive facial cleansers that are available for purchase over-the-counter.

2. Tomatoes help prevent several types of cancer.

A number of studies have been conducted that indicate that the high levels of lycopene in tomatoes works to reduce your chances of developing cancer. Lycopene is a natural antioxidant that works effectively to slow the growth of cancerous cells. Cooked tomatoes produce even more lycopene, so go ahead and cook up a batch of tomato soup.

3. Tomatoes help maintain strong bones.

Tomatoes contain a considerable amount of calcium and Vitamin K. Both of these nutrients are essential in strengthening and performing minor repairs on the bones as well as the bone tissue.

4. Tomatoes help repair damage caused by smoking.

No, eating tomatoes is not the most recent fad to help you quit smoking. However, tomatoes can reduce the amount of damaged done to your body by smoking cigarettes. Tomatoes contain coumaric acid and chlorogenic acid that work to protect the body from carcinogens that are produced from cigarette smoke.

5. Tomatoes provide essential antioxidants.

Tomatoes contain a great deal of Vitamin A and Vitamin C. This is primarily because these vitamins and beta-carotene work as antioxidants to neutralize harmful free radicals in the blood. Free radicals in the blood stream are dangerous because it may lead to cell damage. Remember, the redder the tomato you eat is, the more beta-carotene it contains. In addition, you also want to keep in mind that cooking destroys the Vitamin C, so for these benefits, the tomatoes need to be eaten raw.

6. Tomatoes are good for your heart.

Because of the Vitamin B and potassium in tomatoes, they are effective in reducing cholesterol levels and lowering blood pressure. Therefore, by including tomatoes in your regular balanced diet you can effectively prevent heart attacks, strokes as well as many other heart related problems that may threaten your life.

7. Tomatoes are good for your hair.

The Vitamin A in tomatoes works perfectly to keep your hair shiny and strong. In addition, it also does wonders for your eyes, skin, bones and teeth.

8. Tomatoes are good for your kidneys.

Adding tomatoes without seeds to your diet has been proven in some studies to reduce the risk of kidney stones.

9. Tomatoes are good for your eyes. 

The Vitamin A found in tomatoes is fantastic for improving your vision. In addition, eating tomatoes is one of the best foods to eat to prevent the development of night blindness.

10. Help Sugar Levels.

Tomatoes are packed full of the valuable mineral known as chromium. It works effectively to help diabetics keep their blood sugar levels under better control.

For more information on health and nutrition benefits of tomatoes click here 

This year I understand British Tomato Week has become British Tomato Fortnight with it starting this Monday 21st May and running through to the 3rd June 2018. It’s so simple really, support local farmers and growers and make conscious decisions to buy British tomatoes this summer especially during the fortnight, as they’re at their tastiest and at their best quality and haven’t been shipped all over the place to get to your plates!

I will be making Tomato Cheese Scone Pizza at my cookery clubs next week in local schools and talking ‘tomatoes’. Then at the Tonbridge Food and Drink Festival I am looking forward to making a delicious salad and a little more unusual, on the cookery stage.

If you are lucky enough to be local to a farm shop, supporting a food festival or just out food shopping think about ‘Buying British’ for this is the peak season for quality tomatoes, enjoy them while they are at their best…

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