Origin and benefits of tomatoes
The tomato is a vegetable that comes from the Solanum lycopersicum plant, commonly known as the tomato plant, which belongs to the Solanaceae family.
Until greenhouse agriculture became known, the possibility of eating tomatoes all year round in certain parts of the world seemed unthinkable. Today, however, Spain is one of the main tomato-producing countries thanks to the greenhouses in Almeria and an agricultural model that uses sunlight as a source of energy.
Without heating systems or artificial lighting that are harmful to the environment, we harvest the best tomato crops on our land to supply European and worldwide markets at times of the year when the cold and lack of light prevent other types of production. All this without giving up the delicious taste of tomatoes or the multiple benefits they offer, which we will see below.
But first, let's take a look at the history and myths surrounding the tomato. As we said, today tomatoes are grown and consumed all over the world, but their origin is actually American, specifically from the lower Andes. It is said that it was first cultivated by the Aztecs in Mexico, where they called it "xïtomatl" (meaning fruit with navel), and that it was the Spanish who gave it the name of "tomato" when they introduced it to Spain at the beginning of the 16th century, after the discovery of America and the overseas voyages of the Spanish conquistadors.
When the tomato arrived in Europe, it was thought to be a poisonous plant due to the presence of tomatine in its leaves and unripe fruit, so it was only used as an ornamental plant and later as a medicinal ingredient until the end of the 17th century when tomatoes were also cultivated for consumption.
Did you know that the first tomatoes to reach Europe were yellow in colour? Hence their Italian name "Pomodoro" (in English, golden knob) and the great acceptance that yellow tomatoes still have in the Italian market.
Nowadays we can find a great variety of tomatoes and all of them with very different shapes, colours and flavours. However, whichever variety of tomato you choose, you will get a lot of benefits from its nutritional properties as it contains very few calories, a small amount of simple sugars, and some organic acids, such as citric and malic acid, which are responsible for making tomatoes so appetising and digestive.
This vegetable also stands out for being rich in minerals, vitamins A, B, C and E, and for having a lot of lycopene (a carotenoid pigment with antioxidant effects that gives tomatoes their attractive red colour).
Thanks to its vitamin A content, tomatoes help to improve vision by protecting the eyes from degenerative diseases or night blindness.
Tomatoes help to prevent cardiovascular diseases due to their iron content, an essential mineral for good blood circulation, and also due to vitamin K, which helps to control coagulation.
As it has antioxidant properties, the tomato is considered a natural remedy against ageing and a great ally for the care of our skin, hair and teeth.
The potassium and low sodium levels prevent fluid retention and help eliminate toxins.
By providing vitamin C and antioxidants, the consumption of tomatoes helps to strengthen the body's natural defences by combating free radicals which, in excess, favour the appearance of certain diseases.
Tomatoes are a good ally for controlling and preventing diabetes because they contain fibre and a mineral called chromium, two properties that, when combined, help to regulate blood sugar levels.
After a few seasons in decline, the Almeria countryside has once again opted for tomato growing. At the beginning of the 2022 - 2023 season, Asaja – Almería pointed out that tomato would once again take up a relevant position in our land with "an increase of 15% in the area cultivated with tomato".
Tomato is a product that usually ensures a certain stability in terms of production, but so far this season has been a little irregular due to climatic instability. Temperatures have been too high during the summer and autumn which has contributed to good volumes but has also favoured the presence of pests and diseases such as the rugose virus.
One of the tomato varieties that has been planted most this year is the vine tomato due to the forecast that Dutch winter crops would be considerably lower as a consequence of the high energy costs, a resource that is absolutely necessary in many European countries to heat and light the greenhouses where, for the most part, vine tomatoes are grown.
Now that the cold weather has arrived, tomato production is expected to decrease considerably in places such as the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany and demand for tomatoes from Almeria is expected to increase, leading to price fluctuations.
One of the qualities of the vine tomato is its longer life cycle and post-harvest consistency compared to other tomato varieties. This is due to its presentation in bunches, which keeps it fresh for longer.
At Francisco Maleno García S.L. we have farmers and agricultural technicians specialised in the cultivation of vine tomatoes that allow us to meet the highest European quality standards throughout the year.
If you would like to know more about our product catalogue or talk to our sales team, please contact us and we will inform you.