Why Supermarket Tomatoes Have No Taste

Gene bred into them to help in harvesting hurts flavor
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 28, 2012 7:11 PM CDT
Why Supermarket Tomatoes Have No Taste
They sure look pretty ... but they probably taste like cardboard.   (Getty Images)

A meteor might explain why tomatoes are red, but humans are to blame for why they often have no taste. Specifically, the mass-produced ones found in the supermarket, notes ScienceNow. Researchers led by a team at UC Davis think they've figured out a key part of the problem: Big growers like their tomatoes to be uniformly green so they know when to pick and ship them, and for years, they've been breeding them to get that desired effect. As it turns out, the same gene that makes them the right shade of light green also affects sugar and thus, flavor.

The finding “is one piece of the puzzle about why the modern tomato stinks,” a Florida expert not involved with the study tells the New York Times. “That mutation has been introduced into almost all modern tomatoes. Now we can say that in trying to make the fruit prettier, they reduced some of the important compounds that are linked to flavor.” The good news is that the discovery could pave the way to better-tasting store tomatoes, though it may take a few years, notes the San Francisco Chronicle. In the meantime, stick with the home-grown heirlooms if you crave flavor. (More tomatoes stories.)

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