Why do Greenhouse Tomatoes Taste Bad?!

Since the mid-1990s, greenhouse tomato production has been increasing. Much of the growth can be attributed to a shift in customer preferences toward higher-quality veggies. To assure optimum quality, greenhouse tomatoes are picked vine-ripened or well on their way to a red color stage.

Figure 1 Image Source: Softeis Grape tomatoes

Tomatoes produced in a controlled greenhouse environment are more consistent in size, shape, and color and are more disease resistant than tomatoes grown in the wild.

Consumers in many metropolitan locations are unconcerned about the increased price of greenhouse tomatoes since they obtain better quality in return.

Greenhouse vegetable production may be a lucrative industry for greenhouse growers looking to expand their operations.

In the United States, most greenhouse vegetables are grown hydroponically or without soil; however, some growers still grow plants in the ground. Tomatoes are by far the most extensively cultivated of all the crops that can be grown in a greenhouse, and there are a lot of them.

This is due to a combination of market demand (everyone likes tomatoes) and improved technical information for tomatoes.

We’ve seen how fantastic it can be and how awful it is most of the time. And everyone is curious as to how it came to be that way.

Today, scientists uncovered a minor but fascinating chapter in that story: a genetic change that appeared to increase the quality of the tomato but really degraded its flavor. The supermarket tomatoes we buy have a flavor that is more similar to cardboard.

Tomato breeders have been looking for uniformly cultured fruits for the past 70 years or so. Consumers prefer such tomatoes to those with splotches, and the consistency helps growers determine when it’s time to harvest.

However, new research published this week in science discovered that the mutation that causes most store-bought tomatoes to have a uniform look has an unexpected consequence: it inhibits the synthesis of a protein important for the fruit’s sugar production.

Before they mature, mass-produced tomato cultivars with this genetic mutation are bright green all throughout. Before they mature, tomatoes lacking the mutation, such as heritage and most small-farm tomatoes, have dark-green tops.

There is also a substantial flavor difference between the two varieties of tomatoes, but researchers were unaware that the two features were caused by the same factor.

What Causes the Tomatoes Taste to Go So Bad?

It’s no secret that the majority of commercially cultivated tomatoes have a bad flavor. Scientists have now found the cause: a DNA mutation introduced into tomatoes to produce a uniform hue.

Around 70 years ago, tomato breeders identified the gene and began to cross-breed it into practice all commercial tomatoes to give them a pleasing red hue.

The redness gene was added to switch off-flavor genes, which produced more sugars and carotenoids, which are different chemicals in the tomato that contribute to bad flavor.

The History Behind the Bad Tasted Tomatoes

Tomatoes are one of the most valuable crops on the planet. The United States, which is the world’s second-largest tomato producer behind China, sells more than a billion dollars’ worth of tomatoes each year.

They are good providers of vitamins A and C in terms of nutrition. However, the huge, plump, reddish tomatoes seen in grocery stores all year taste nothing like the tiny, multi-hued, berry-sized fruits that originated more than 50 million years ago near Antarctica and were first domesticated in Central and South America around 2500 years ago.

Following Spanish colonialism in the 16th century, the fruits spread all over the world. Hundreds of more regional tomato varieties evolved during the following 400 years or so, but they usually kept tiny, sweet, and delicious.

Then, following World War II, commercial agriculture expanded, and tomato plants were selected for better yields, disease resistance, redder color, and firmness.

These characteristics let farmers sell their products for more money, but taste genes were disregarded according, and many were lost or tamped down over thousands of generations.