Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Home Grown Tomatoes

Restaurants and grocery stores have been busy pulling tomatoes off sandwiches and store shelves.

This, is after a salmonella scare forced many businesses to find alternate sources of the favorite condiment.

But as Trevor Roy reports, not all tomatoes are tainted.

Concerns over the recent salmonella outbreak in tomatoes have forced many restaurants and grocery stores to pull the fruit off their shelves, but one local business doesn't have to worry about that.

Bay Produce of Superior grows their tomatoes all year long in its two greenhouses that are staffed by clients of the Challenge Center.

What makes these tomatoes safe?

"Food safety-wise, hydroponics is the cleanest production - if it is tomatoes, lettuce, whatever you grow, food quality-wise and safety-wise, we are the cleanest, because we have control growing it. Out in the field is second and growing it organically is the worst."

Hydroponic growing is different from just planting a vine in the ground.

With hydroponics, the plants receive all the nutrients plants need to through water rather than soil.

Salmonella and similar outbreaks occur when animals pass through fields and their waste gets on the vegetables or fruit.

Because Bay Produce grows their tomatoes hydroponically and in a green house, they don't have to worry about a tainted supply.

"We are in an enclosed environment a controlled environment where nothing comes in here without us knowing it."

But more importantly, how do they taste?

"Actually, they taste very well, if you talk to anybody, or if you talk to the vicinity there are specific restaurants that only buy our tomatoes."

Challenge Center Work Services Director Debbie Gergen says it's important to realize that not all tomatoes are dangerous.

"It's this community of Duluth-Superior that has supported Bay Produce throughout the years and we wanted the public to know that Bay Produce tomatoes are safe. Bay Produce tomatoes are a great, great product and we also want to let the public know that the workforce behind Bay Produce is people with disabilities."

So if you can't stand the thought of a tomato-less meal, Bay Produce is just the place you we're looking for.

In Superior, Trevor Roy, the Northland's Newscenter.

Bay Produce grows and ships 350,000 pounds of tomatoes a year.

The Greenhouse also produces three different varieties of peppers.

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