Solution to sky-high tomato prices: Grow local

In the summer of 2009, a combination of organic growing and home gardens have, ironically, inspired what is beginning to look like a big environmental mess. As people have become enamored of fresh-off-the-vine tomatoes, millions of us are obsessing about the tomato and potato blight that's struck the Northeast US, causing tomato prices to go up by 20 percent. Meanwhile, farmers are agonizing over whether to spray fungicides, and lose organic certification -- or face the loss of an entire crop of tomatoes. Added into (and helping to fuel) the mix is Michelle Obama's vegetable garden, which was so inspiring that 43 million households -- up 20 percent from 2008 -- are growing veggies in the U.S. this year.

It's something else that this blight seems to be the fault of well-traveled tomato plants. Oh, the unusually wet June weather is also to blame, as are monoculture farms which grow dozens (or hundreds, or thousands) of acres of the exact same plant. But mostly, it's the fault of trucks full of tomato seedlings traveling the Eastern interstate highway system.


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