Growing up summers were filled with pleasures. We would take long trips to see the rest of the family to Arizona or Ohio that defined the highlights of summer vacation. But there was also the day-to-day living with the slowness of the summer and the enjoyment of the outdoors. There were endless times in the water and that would tend to be the ocean or the lakes nearby.
And along side all these memories of summer vacation are the tomatoes that you could pick right off the vines. I don’t know whether it’s an individual thing or genetics, but I love tomatoes. At the Farmers Market today the tomatoes are back. These aren’t the ones that are genetically altered so that they grow all year long. These are the large juicy red tomatoes that only appear once you find yourself hot and sticky enough to remember to keep drinking water. Summer is here.
From a nutritional perspective tomatoes are high in lycopene, which reduces the risk of heart disease and cancer. As well, it is a source of vitamin C, potassium, folate, and vitamin K. Lycopene is a super antioxidant that protects cells from damage. It is thought to help prevent prostate, breast, lung, bladder, ovarian, colon and pancreatic cancers. Eating your tomatoes is like sending loving kindness to these organs. Using them in sauces, soups, or as ketchup puts them in a form where your body can absorb the lycopene more easily. My great pleasure is just to eat them with a little oil and salt, sliced on a plate with nothing else.
And tomatoes are a vegetable that you can preserve through canning or dry freezing. So you can remember that hint of summer throughout the year. But nothing compares with the memory of being a child and taking it off the vine with a little salt. The memory stays with you forever. As the tomatoes we also can guarantee the presence of cucumbers, squashes and soon eggplants. And we get to experience it every year.
Enjoy the taste of summer. And eat your fruits and vegetables.