Most commercially grown tomatoes are bred for hardness so that they can withstand the bumps and crush of transport, and so are picked when they are firm and green. They are then gassed with ethylene in warehouses until they turn the rosy-red of a ripe tomato.
Beauty in this case is skin deep! A perfectly tasteless tomato, one that is consistently shaped and rounded to conform to what consumers demand lands on our shelves and then on our plates.
Today’s genetically engineered tomatoes are as bereft of nutrition as they are of flavour. Analyses by the US Dept of Agriculture concludes that 100g of fresh tomato today has 30 percent less vitamin C, 30 percent less niacin, and 62 percent less calcium than it did in the 60’s. Interestingly, it contains fourteen times as much sodium.
Heirloom tomatoes are not pretty. Lumpy, scarred and deeply creased, each tomato has a shape and size uniquely its own. Yet there is no better tasting tomato than an organically farmed Heirloom beauty that is taken garden-ripe to the table. A sweetness and tartness, a perfume that shouts TOMATO, juices that burst into your mouth in a surge! A real tomato is the distilled essence of the sun, warm soil and summer days.
Heirloom or heritage seeds are those that are handed down from generation to generation, and need to be a variety that is 40-50 years old in order to qualify as Heirloom. These varieties are no longer available commercially and have been preserved and kept true due to their superior qualities and taste.
At Organika we only use Heirloom Organic seeds from South Africa’s most reputable seed suppliers. Organic seeds are harvested from plants that are grown without the use of chemical pesticides or herbicides, fertilisers or any chemical treatment. Our seeds themselves are not treated chemically, unlike those generally used by commercial seed growers to protect their crops from disease, as well as to increase shelf-life. We continue this by ensuring that our tomatoes are never exposed to any chemical products to control pests. Instead we use what nature provides – garlic, chilli, and herbs and flowers to keep pests at bay, and allowing natural predators to assist in controlling the pest population.
All Heirloom plants are open pollinated. Open pollination means that plants are left for the bees, wind and other natural sources to pollinate. Cross-pollination can occur over different strains creating a new variety. Open pollination increases biodiversity.
Organika is based in Kyalami, Johannesburg on a smallholding where we grow a vast array of organic vegetables and herbs, using our own compost and irrigating from the nutritious waters of our tilapia-filled dam. We have a number of resident bullfrogs, some hares that dart through the property from time to time, and our equestrian friends Gabi, Rosie, Flutterby and Ellie.