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sweet tomato jam + food bloggers for slave-free tomatoes

Tuesday, July 24, 2012
I remember the pale tomatoes sitting proudly on the windowsill above our kitchen sink: they were always there, waiting silently to be sliced and diced into my mom’s nightly salads. My sister and I would wrinkle our noses at them, terrified of their oozing juices, their pile of seeds. We would wash the dishes there, staring them down, refusing to ever eat them.
 
Yet they were always a part of my daily routine; there, on the windowsill, and later at coffee shops and cafes where we would carry in boxes of them, line them up and cut them into the thinnest circles. The red juices would leak down the sides of the slicer, seeds spilling carelessly over counters and floor. Several times I watched as someone got too close, fingers nicked by the blade, and there the blood and watery juice flowed together. It was impossible to discern between the reds, and we would throw them all out, scrubbing away the evidence.
But somehow, here in my 30’s, a love for these ruby reds has developed.  It started several years ago, after growing them in my backyard for canning. On a hot July day I bit into a freshly picked cherry tomato, and the sweet-yet-acidic circle overwhelmed me. I was sold. There are tomatoes on my windowsill, now, too.
 
But not just any tomatoes, mind you. We all know about not purchasing them in the winter, and home-grown tastes best, but there is much more involved in the simple purchase of a tomato. Many of Florida’s tomato pickers are exploited by slavery, child labor, and serious sexual abuse, causing Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas Molloy to call Florida’s tomato fields “ground zero” for modern-day slavery in the United States. The good news is there is a partnership between farm workers and tomato growers, called the Fair Food Program, that has made strides in ending slavery and other abuses in Florida’s tomato fields. Many major fast food companies, like McDonalds and Subway, have already endorsed the Fair Food Program. The bad news is that the largest US supermarket chains have yet to support this collaborative effort to eradicate modern day slavery.
 
So here is a call to action. Many food bloggers are joining together today to raise awareness, and to ask for your voice. It’s as simple as sending a message with your business. Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods are two supermarkets that do support slave-free tomatoes, as well as your local farmer’s markets. While other large supermarkets are refusing to acknowledge the Fair Food Program, we ask you to shop at these places for your tomatoes.
 
It’s just a tomato. But there are real hands and feet, backs and knees, plucking and tending and washing and packing. Let us not turn a blind eye; let us discern between the reds.
Most of the information regarding the Fair Foods Program and slave-free tomatoes is taken from The Giving Table‘s website. For more information on slave-free tomatoes, and other ways you can get involved, please head over to International Justice Mission.
 
For more reading on the subject:
 
Thank you to The Giving Table for organizing this call to action!
Tomato Jam

Fany Gerson, My Sweet Mexico

This tomato jam is sweet, there is nothing savory about it. It is delicious on toast, and I’ve been enjoying it on whole wheat brioche. Ms. Gerson also recommends serving it with strawberries – I think the two in puff pastry would make a delicious treat. This jam doubles or triples well. A single batch will yield about 2 cups of jam.

4 cups cherry tomatoes
1 1/4 cups sugar
pinch of salt

Wash and dry the tomatoes. Cut the tomatoes in half and place them in a small, heavy pot with the sugar and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil and adjust the heat so it is at a constant simmer. Cook, stirring often, until the jam is thickened and you can see the bottom of the pot when pulling a spatula across it, about 50 minutes. If you want a very smooth jam, you can pulse it in a food processor at this point. Let cool, and refrigerate.

  • Reply
    london bakes
    Tuesday, July 24, 2012 at 8:25 am

    This is such an important issue and such a wonderful campaign that has been organised, I am really confident that it will raise huge awareness of this issue and make some real changes.

  • Reply
    Jenny @ BAKE
    Tuesday, July 24, 2012 at 9:21 am

    I’m still slightly in shock that something like that could still be happening! this is a lovely post, and the tomato jam looks delicious

  • Reply
    la domestique
    Tuesday, July 24, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    Beautiful words, Sarah, and such a beautiful jam!

  • Reply
    Melody
    Tuesday, July 24, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    Lovely words that pay homage to the bright red beauty. I remember hearing about this years ago in a Nat Geo and feeling shocked. Glad that this campaign is happening and will be spreading awareness!

  • Reply
    Ashlae
    Tuesday, July 24, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    I am so intrigued by this tomato jam. And your words, so moving. Happy to see you participating 🙂

  • Reply
    Amy
    Tuesday, July 24, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    Beautiful pictures. I’m going to try this in a few weeks when our cherry tomatoes are ready. Have you ever tried ground cherries? Similar to a tomatoe but sweeter. We found them at a farmers market last year and this year have planted 20 bushes of them because we liked them so much. There is a lot of jam in our future!

    • Reply
      vanilla bean blog
      Wednesday, July 25, 2012 at 7:53 pm

      Thank you Amy! I tried ground cherries for the first time last summer – so good! My kids called them happy hearts, and the name stuck.

  • Reply
    Laura
    Tuesday, July 24, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    Loving your story and recollection of blushing tomatoes on the counter. That’s been a summertime fixture for the better part of my life too :). And this jam! You’re awesome. That’s just it.

  • Reply
    Kelsey
    Tuesday, July 24, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    Your jam wins 😉

  • Reply
    Nicole @The Giving Table
    Tuesday, July 24, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    “Let us not turn a blind eye; let us discern between the reds.” Stunning writing, Sarah. And a lovely recipe, too. Thanks so much for supporting this cause today.

    • Reply
      vanilla bean blog
      Wednesday, July 25, 2012 at 7:54 pm

      Thank you, Nicole. And thanks so much for organizing everything!

  • Reply
    Sonja / A Couple Cooks
    Tuesday, July 24, 2012 at 9:04 pm

    This looks delicious! I also had the same problem liking tomatoes until I was an adult 🙂 Thanks for doing this!

  • Reply
    Sarah B.
    Tuesday, July 24, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    Beautiful post Sarah! So great you contributed, the jam and bread look delicious!

  • Reply
    lisa heaner
    Tuesday, July 24, 2012 at 10:54 pm

    striking images and words, as always. but particularly so in this post. thank you, lovely heart, for caring and helping others to care.

  • Reply
    Cookie and Kate
    Wednesday, July 25, 2012 at 5:38 am

    Funny, I didn’t like tomatoes as a kid, either. I’ve always loved cooked tomato sauces (ketchup, marinara, etc.) so although I’ve never had tomato jam, I don’t doubt I’d adore it. Yum.

  • Reply
    blessedmama
    Wednesday, July 25, 2012 at 8:29 pm

    I had no idea. Thanks for the enlightenment.

  • Reply
    Sacha
    Thursday, July 26, 2012 at 12:28 am

    I didn’t like tomatoes in my younger years either. Now I cannot get enough of those summertime reds (and greens and yellows!). Your words in this post really helped introduce this cause. And the tomato jam sounds wonderful.

  • Reply
    souplantation coupons 2012
    Saturday, July 28, 2012 at 7:09 am

    I am shock that such things could also happen.Anyways i love tomatoes and jam looks beautiful.Great words you have mentioned in your post.

  • Reply
    Jeanine
    Monday, July 30, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    so beautiful and simple!

  • Reply
    Amy
    Wednesday, August 22, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    I finally had cherry tomatoes and made this jam today. Very interesting. Smells just like tomatoes, but does not taste very much like them at all. Thanks for the new recipe. I am happy to give this as gifts to others because it is so different and tastes sweet and yummy! A good conversation piece!

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