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Tyrades! Attack of the $160,000 Tomatoes

Friday, June 25, 2010

Tyrades! Attack of the $160,000 Tomatoes

One would think that individuals living in Israel would have an Old Testament concept of things such as abominations, but such is not the case.

According to the Los Angeles Times, a growing number of Israeli farmers, agricultural companies, and government-funded research institutions are producing such monstrosities as lemon-scented tomatoes, chocolate-colored persimmons, purple potatoes, potato-shaped carrots, carrot-shaped strawberries, and worm-shaped berries. (What's next? Onions that emit nitrous oxide, so you'll laugh instead of cry?)

Apparently all this got started because some Jewish mother admonished her son, "Don't play with your food -- play with everyone else's food! And marry a nice Jewish doctor who can dislodge potato-shaped carrots."

Regardless of the fad's origin, the Israeli Tourism Board may have to defend itself against "bait and switch" charges. Tourists have been booking tours of the Holy Land, but they find themselves landing in the "Holy Guacamole, Batman" Land.

One farmer bragged that customers snap up his exotic produce for twice the price of non-novelty vegetables. Remember when status symbols were built of sterner stuff? I cringe to think of guys experiencing a mid-life crisis and buying a red sports car to match their red cucumber.

Maybe the aforementioned farmer should genetically engineer legumes that spell out clever messages like "Kiss the cook," "It's 5 O'Clock Somewhere," "A Fool And His Money Are Soon Parted"...

One farmer developed a (I hope you're sitting down) yellow cherry tomato. The seeds sell for $160,000 a pound in Europe. What if Jack (of Beanstalk fame) fell for a scam like that? ("Ma, look at what I got for $160,000 and the family cow. They're tiny. And yellow. And we're European. And did I mention they're tiny? Ma, unlock the door! Pleeeeeze????")

I hope the Israelis can live with the consequences if their unholy experiments continue expanding exponentially. Israeli commandos will be called in to clean out refrigerators. ("I can't tell by the color whether it's spoiled. And maybe the smell is SUPPOSED to peel the paint...") The USDA will have to redo its food pyramid so kids can learn about the Dairy Group, Protein Group, Glow-In-The-Dark Group, etc. Instead of the sojourning Johnny Appleseed, schools will teach about Johnny What-The-@$%^ Did You Just Plant?

To be fair, not all the innovations deal with color or shape. Some involve beefing up the veggies with additional minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, white sidewalls, caller i.d., etc. I just fear that the produce will develop a Wolverine-like mutant healing factor. ("The squash keeps healing every time I slice it! Somebody get Professor X!")

And I'll cut a little slack for the farmers who are mostly trying to avoid blandness in mass-produced veggies. In the world of modern supermarkets, "quacks like a duck" deductive reasoning goes more like "If it looks like a tomato and feels like a tomato and tastes like a tomato, then it ain't a tomato!"

At least the hybrid movement is adding to our folk wisdom. You know, "Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day...teach him to grow worm-shaped berries and he'll look like a jackass for a lifetime."

Having conquered Europe, the trendy treats will soon invade America. Maybe the importers could hire Barbra Streisand to warble a jingle. ("People...people who need blue bananas...are the most narcissistic not-worth-the-dynamite-it-would-take-to-blow-them-up people in the world...")

Note: Danny Tyree welcomes e-mail at tyreetyrades@aol.com.