Interesting NPR story on the Heinz company’s attempt to breed sweeter tomatoes as a response to the increasing costs of corn syrup. They seem to be doing the hard work of cross-breeding different plants as opposed to relying on genetic modification, but I wonder what effect tampering like this will have on the future of the tomato. Let’s assume Heinz succeeds in creating a super-sweet tomato. No doubt other characteristics of the tomato would be bred out, and we will be left with a one-dimensional fruit. This must have consequences for its uses in cooking. For the better in some cases, I’m sure, but not in others. Ketchup might improve, but caprese salalds would never be the same. We would have to redefine our understanding of the tomato. Age old recipes would have to be altered as the characteristics of these most basic ingredients fundamentally change. While I haven’t thought through all the implications of such modification and whether the benefits outweigh the costs, there is certainly something sad about knowing that my grandmother’s recipes are being tampered with from the inside out.
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