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July 17, 2007 | 7 Comments

Dear Mr. Keillor,
Last night, on the national evening news, it was reported that contrary to popular opinion, the ingredients in tomatoes does not prevent many kinds of cancer.

Is there any reason now to eat a nice tomato, mozzarella and basil salad, or even spaghetti marinara?

Mostly, is there a reason for you to continue advertising the benefits of catsup/ketchup on PHC?

I look forward to your opinion.

San Clemente, CA

The Evening News, Sandy, cannot be relied upon for nutritional advice. We know this. Last night they bad-mouthed the tomato and then next week they'll be raving about it. These things go up and down, up and down. Constant revisionism. What we have claimed for the tomato, however, is not a cure for cancer — we have only said that it has "natural mellowing agents," particularly when ingested in the form of catchup. I think that this speaks for itself and needs no endorsement from Katie Couric or whoever's news you're watching these days. I am an old hand when it comes to tomatoes, having grown up with a garden that was full of them, and on a day in July, when I had finished hoeing corn, on my way back to the house to read a book, I always picked a fresh tomato and wiped it off and ate it, warm, raw, and that taste is one I remember to this day. It made a person's toes tingle. The Fifties were not the happiest time, what with the Cold War and all, but the tomato did a lot to lighten the burden, in my opinion. If you are turning away from the tomato, Sandy, what will you turn to? The pomegranate? The orange? The parsnip? Arugula? Somehow these seem like pale substitutes to me. You can't dump a whole species just because of one bad rap. It's like San Clemente itself, which is permanently associated in the minds of older Americans with the word "disgrace," simply because You Know Who went there after leaving Washington. Well, it's unfair to you and to other San Clementeans. Give Tomatoes A Chance. That's all I'm saying.


GK - You might want to add to your Tomato file the recipe for Brazos River Catfish Stew. The ingredients are tomato soup concentrate, catchup, a diced onion, diced salt pork, chunks of catfish from fillets, butter, cayenne pepper, worcestershire sauce, cayenne pepper, etc. How much of each depends. You know how it goes. Ideally it should be cooked in a big pot over an open fire along the river bank, but it works pretty good in the kitchen, too.

Something grown fresh out of the ground has got to trump anything that comes out of a box, no matter what they have done to make it seem like it is a real food worth putting in your mouth..

Actually, it was Brian Williams who warned me
off tomatoes as a mean of cancer defense.
I've always been an NBC fan -- even taught
Jess Marlow to sail!

As for "You Know Who," since most who
live in San Clemente now are young and
from other countries, his name is
all but forgotten (we'd like to keep it
that way).

I will take your advice, Mr. Keillor. I only
wish I had had the opportunity to taste
tomatoes fresh off the vine. Do lemons count?
We have plenty of them on our tree at
Christmas time.


I moved to the west coast of California from New York State in 1978. One of the best memories of living in New York was the ability to pick a fresh tomato right off the vine in our backyard and sitting on the front porch with my tomato and a salt shaker eating that delicious, warm, fleshy fruit. Cancer defense or not, it doesn't matter. What matters is the enjoyment of that wonderful taste. California has missed out.


I LOVE tomatoes but, as anyone who has ever had to sit with elementary children in a school cafeteria can attest, they most assuredly DO NOT include mellowing agents when ingested in the form of ketchup.

As to the medical importance of the tomato...what will be, will be. We all know about today's medical reports, fickle as they are! However, there is nothing better than the homegrown tomato! Any tomato "dish" emerging from a restaurant kitchen, must surely find them with the mushrooms in a dark corner somewhere. They aren't fit to eat. Whatever happened to our good, old tomatoes of the 50's/60's? Cold War or not, those were the good old days! Can't wait for my Montana garden to finish my tomatoes!

I'll trade some of your tomatoes
for my juicy Meyer lemons, but
there's one catch -- you'll have
to invite me over since the state
of California probably won't let you
ship them to me.

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