Arthur Allen, a former Associated Press foreign correspondent, has written for The New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Slate, Smithsonian, and Salon. He lives in Washington, D.C.
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The tomato. As savory as any vegetable, as sweet as its fellow fruits, the seeded succulent inspires a cult–like devotion from food lovers on all continents. The people of Ohio love the tomato so much they made tomato juice the official state beverage. An annual food festival in Spain draws thousands of participants in a 100–ton tomato fight. The inimitable, versatile tomato has conquered the cuisines of Spain and Italy, and in America, it is our most popular garden vegetable. Journalist Arthur Allen understands the spell of the tomato and is your guide in telling its dramatic story. He begins by describing in mouthwatering detail the wonder of a truly delicious tomato, then introduces the man who prospected for wild tomato genes in South America and made them available to tomato breeders. He tells the baleful story of enslaved Mexican Indians in the Florida tomato fields, the conquest of the canning tomato by the Chinese Army, and the struggle of Italian tomato producers to maintain a way of life. Allen combines reportage, archival research, and innumerable anecdotes in a lively narrative that, through the lens of today's global market, tells a story that will resonate from greenhouse to dinner table.