22 August 2012

Opening a Can of...Tomatoes

The other night I was at the supermarket to buy a can of tomatoes.  For years I have bought the Italian varieties without thinking about it very much except that they seem to taste better.  But there was an interesting/alarming article in The Age a couple of months ago that talked about recent issues with their production.  I have been buying locally grown fresh food for ages, but somehow never made the leap to buying locally grown and canned tomatoes and decided now was the time to change my habits.

So anyway, for the first time in ages I actually started reading the labels on the cans to make sure that they were actually Australian fruit.  What shocked me most was not where they were from, but the tomato content in all the cans.  In most of them (Australian and internationally grown) the content of tomatoes was somewhere between 55-65%.  How can a can full of tomatoes actually only be half full?!  I finally found one Australian variety called "SPC Australian Gold Crushed Tomatoes" which stated it is 97% tomatoes.  It also says "Australian Made" all over it, but is it safe to assume that's the tomatoes as well as the canning??  And is the content only due to them being crushed? I wonder if there are any varieties of whole tomatoes that have a similar percentage?

I can't wait until summer for tomato season in the Country Garden!

10 comments:

  1. Thanks for your reconnaissance. I will have to take a look myself. Bring on the fresh tomatoes!

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  2. Labels are so dubious. Dave won a frozen chook the other day, a Steggles one and it said it contained 90% Chicken. Now that is alarming.

    Can't wait for summmer we opened the last jar of tomato relish yesterday!!

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  3. It does reinforce how much better it is to preserve and can your own food. I'd prefer to buy locally grown tommies and preserve them if I can't grown my own tomatoes.

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  4. Labels on cans are becoming quite deceiving not to mention what the don't even have to claim. Nothing cab beat a homegrown tomato.

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  5. I often wonder what we can really trust on labels. "Made in" doesn't necessarily mean "product of". Sometimes it does, sometimes not. At least when you can your own garden tomatoes, there's no doubt!

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  6. Good incentive for us all to preserve this coming summers harvest - not just tomatoes but as much of everything as possible.
    My husband and I made a bit of a thing in the supermarket a while back about not buying oranges from USA and a lady looking at them gave us the once over as if we were aliens!

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  7. I have endless problems with canned tomatoes, I became quite obsessed with reading their labels for awhile. Have a look at the salt content - its all very odd. I bought a can of Coles organic tomatoes and found it had quite a high salt content - for a can that didn't have salt listed as an ingredient. I rang Coles and was informed that this is because tomatoes grown in some areas take up much more salt than others hence the amount listed on the can. Personally I am very dubious about this but did find it interesting that they confidently used this as the reason. Incidentally an Italian brand had very similar salt content on their label but all the others had neglible amounts. Weird eh. Anyway the upshot of all this is a desperate ebay search for Fowlers equipment. If you add in the BPA concerns there are all too many things to worry about when buying tinned tomatoes...silly middle class concerns I know but still...

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  8. I'm with Liz, so many worries with tinned tomatoes. Last summer I bottled a box or two of tomatoes with the Fowlers but it's nowhere near enough to last us the year. Lately I've been buying tomatoes in glass, passata style because I thought they that would have the least amount of BPA out of all the products on the shelf, but then add salt into the equation and I'm totally in the dark! Off to check just exactly what it's content is. Sometimes it feels like you just can't win..

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  9. Thanks everyone for your thoughts. It was so great last summer having a plentiful supply of fresh tomatoes. I agree with you all that the next best thing is to preserve your own, for all the reasons that everyone listed, and I'm definitely going to do that at the end of this coming summer. I didn't grow enough last year to do it, but as Sarah suggests, buying local ones to preserve is a good alternative. And I have been saving milk bottles for about a year that I haven't done anything with yet...!

    I'm not sure that it is a "silly middle class concern" Liz. The issue to me is about people being able to source fresh, good quality, locally produced food that is't highly processed. It often seems to be the cheaper brands that are the worst offenders, full of preservatives, salt and sugar. Given the tsunami of diabetes and other health epidemics that are heading our way in the coming years, I think it's an issue of relevance to everyone. I must say that I'm really impressed that you rang Coles to ask them about it. Perhaps that's one way that we could all start to positively influence outcomes.

    And Lisa - that's just bizarre, and very scary!! What on earth could the other 10% be?! I'm assuming water? Were there giblets that were actually from another animal? Did they count the packaging???

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