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Friday, April 1, 2016

Did you know Florida Tomatoes

One of my favorite sandwiches is the famous BLT. Bacon, lettuce and tomato. Each part has to be just right. I often order extra bacon so that I can savor it , the lettuce I want a good leaf but not to much as like I said I love the bacon. The tomato has to be a good slice and don't forget the bread. Not to thick sliced but thick enough. This recipe offers even more with a taste like no other. Sour dough bread has a taste that no other bread offers and this recipe has tomato built right in. 

1 1/2 cups sourdough starter
  • 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm tomato juice
2 teaspoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 7 cups all-purpose flour

  1. Dissolve yeast in 1 cup warm water, set aside.
  2. In large bowl; mix starter and tomato juice. Add yeast mixture, salt, sugar and stir well.
  3. Add 1 cup of flour at a time and beat well to develop the gluten. When a stiff dough forms, turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, adding the last 1 cup of flour as you go.
  4. Turn into greased bowl and lightly grease top, cover with towel and place in draft free area for 2 hours. Will double in bulk.
  5. Punch down and divide dough in two, form into rounds and place each on a baking sheet that has been sprinkled generously with cornmeal.
  6. Let rise 1/2 hour, rub top lightly with flour and slash with sharp knife. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C ) for 45-60 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned when checked.
  7. For a soft crust, cool under a clean dishtowel. For a harder European type crust, cool without

Safety Alert
I was not aware until I started to research Florida tomato's. One thing I did learn made me very concerned. The Huffington Post reported that there is a dark secret in part of tomato farming. It seems that there are thousands of farm laborers work under slavery like conditions today in the U.S. and Mexico to grow tomatoes and other produce. 

January 2014 the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) was presented with the 2014 Presidential Medal for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Human Trafficking. This group helped workers battle back against slave like working conditions of American tomato farmers. The Coalition of Immokalee workers is not for profit based in Immokalee, Florida. It is a coalition of tomato farmers who have banned together to create and work toward safe and fair working conditions for all workers in Florida's agricultural industry .

Before the coalition some of the harshest and brutal treatment was offered to the workers in the tomato fields. A third of all U.S. tomatoes are grown in this area. Florida helps provide about 90% of our winter tomatoes so workers are very much needed in this area. Other crops grow here as well and they all need workers in the field to harvest and care for the crops. Keeping these workers is not always easy and slavery like conditions have spurred up. In the past 20 years the Justice Department has prosecuted slavery cases in this area of Florida.

Over a thousand individuals have been freed from agricultural slavery rings in Florida during the last 10 to 15 years. Stories of brutal beatings, shackles and chains, no pay for work done, and over crowded houses where workers were made to stay and pay for rent. There are also stories of harsh work conditions of working in fields with no shade or breaks and working long hours. There was no way to escape it seemed 

Tomato pickers earn two cents for every pound they pick. Making the owner of the field more money as the tomatoes are sold for $1 to $4 a pound. Companies have banned together to pay a penny more per pound that goes to the workers. This allows a raise in pay for the pickers which can help them out of the large debt that they owe and keeps them enslaved to the owners. 

Look for the fair food program label that tells you that they are a fair food 

You can also join a local Fair Food Group. To learn more about the plight of tomato farmers, check out the film Food Chains and the book Tomatoland by Barry Estabrooks.

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