The way tomatoes go scarce one day, then becomes too expensive to buy the next day is exhausting, abeg.
It is almost as if the thing has constant mood swings. It doesn’t even care that we need it for our stews and sauces, for times when we pretend to eat healthily. For that “I eat only fresh vegetables” feeling.
Even though it is a fruit, that is the feeling tomatoes manage to give us. Carrots and Green Stringer Beans gives us a healthy eating vibe too. But they are not so essential to our diet and are somehow always available.
But you see tomatoes? They are useful in everything. Think of one local meal that won’t benefit from some tomatoes. I don’t think you’ll find many. Even Abula is not complete without mixed beef in tomato stew.
So, why is it not the easiest vegetable to buy no matter the season?
I think the problem started when South-Western farmers seemed to give up on planting tomatoes. When I was younger, I remember there used to be two main types of tomatoes in the market. There was one that was smooth and almost oblong. It was most preferred for egg sauce and garnishing jollof rice. It was a posh tomato.
Then there was a second type that looked like it had mutated. It looked like more than one tomato inside one tomato. It had quarters and was shaped like a green garden egg. This mutant tomato was most preferred for cooking stew and party Jollof. Professional caterers claimed they yielded more juice and had a distinct taste.
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I didn’t care for any of that. I just liked that the mutant tomato was cheaper than posh tomato and always available.
When this mutant tomato stopped appearing in our markets, I wonder if anybody bothered to ask questions at the market level. My tomato and pepper customer said they only get the posh tomatoes from farms in Jos, Kaduna and other northern states. He didn’t seem to know there was ever a thing like the mutant tomato when I tried to describe it to him.
It was disappointing.
I remember saying one time that we could do with building fewer houses, plazas and malls. We could instead leave space for farms, recreational parks and more greenery. If the games posh tomato is playing with our diet is any indication, then I’m right. Farming should be encouraged state-wide on every level so that we can be in a better position foodwise.
We could be swimming in a variety of tomato juice, But we’d rather leave farming to only one region. Therefore, enduring whatever delays our food might encounter before it gets to us.
We could be better. But we always chase the easy way out in the name of capitalism and making a living. Hopefully, tomato paste importation is never banned so that we can keep pretending we’re eating well.