Right now, France is at peak tomato...

Picking Tomatoes
In French commercial greenhouses tomatoes grow on a seemingly never-ending stem, which is wound down nearly half a metre every few weeks so that pickers can reach the fruit easily

Despite yields of up to 20kg per plant, there is a surprisingly healthy truth about France’s supermarket tomatoes, as Jane Hanks discovers

Tomatoes are France’s favourite vegetable – or fruit, to be biologically accurate – with each household eating an average of more than 14 kilogrammes of them every year.

France is the fifth largest producer in Europe, with one-third of all the country’s tomatoes hailing from Brittany, followed by 21% in PACA and 15% from Pays de la Loire. 

Right now, tomatoes are at their peak – and delicious in all forms. One of the joys of living in France is being able to grow wonderful tomatoes in your garden which taste fantastic.

Commercial tomatoes on offer in supermarkets, however, are grown hydroponically in greenhouses. This sounds frighteningly industrial, but the biggest collective of producers – Tomates de France – who are responsible for more than a third of the country’s 602,000 tonnes of tomatoes grown every year is keen to tell the world their tomatoes are healthy to eat, use almost no pesticides, few fertilisers and do not waste water.

Every May, they open their doors to the public. In 2018, they welcomed more than 2,500 visitors in four ...

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