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Ripened tomatoes arrive at area farmers' markets
Deluge of rain causes delay for juicy fruit
Tomato varieties include, clockwise from top left, heirlooms African Togga (or Togo), Tigerella, the one remaining Brandywine pink and the paste, aka plum tomato. - photo by NAT GURLEY

Tomato season has finally found its stride in North Georgia despite the deluge of rain this summer.

However, Cleveland couple Glen and Caroline Cook said the rain did not deter their tomato garden from spouting ripe tomatoes recently for the local community to enjoy.

“Typically, tomatoes would start coming in mid-July, and they will be good through mid-September, if you can keep your plants alive,” Glen Cook said. “It’s a summer thing.”

The owners of Cedar Hollow Farm sell their different tomato varieties and other fresh produce at nearby farmers’ markets, including the brand-new one in Clermont on Saturday. The Cooks said tomatoes tend to be favorite among their buyers.

However, tomatoes were not in season earlier this summer.

“It seems like people have gotten used to going to a grocery store and buying things out of season,” GlenCook said. “They don’t understand, if you’re going to buy (tomatoes) local, you can’t buy things at certain times of the year.”

The Cooks planted tomatoes in January and experienced some “drawbacks” this summer because of the rain. But a little foresight on their part helped them weather the surplus rainfall. This season the Cooks built a shelter to cover their plants, allowing for ripe tomatoes on time.

“Overall, we have had a very good summer,” Caroline said.

Some of the various tomatoes the Cooks grow include paste tomatoes, cherry tomatoes and several different heirloom tomatoes.

Caroline Cook said she makes tomato pie and sauces and adds tomatoes to salads. She also slices a tomato, adds salt and eats it.

Sheenagh King, of The Longstreet Clinic’s Bariatric Center, advised eating a fresh market tomato is better than drinking canned tomato juice from a store. Making sauce out of fresh tomatoes also can increase some health benefits, as well.

“Tomatoes are a non-starchy carb,” she said. “They are going to be low in calories and high in fiber. They are a rich source of potassium as well. They are also going to help you lose weight.”

But preparing the favored Southern dish of fried green tomatoes will deplete the fruits health benefits, King said.

Some more health benefits include folic acid and vitamins A, C and E, which may help meet daily nutritional values. Tomatoes also contain Lycopene, an antioxidant that helps the body fight off different things, she said.

“Tomatoes are going to help ward off cancer and they are going to help with heart issues,” King said. “We all need antioxidants. They can be considered the good guys and they are going to fight the bad guys, the things that make us sick. That’s why we need to eat more tomatoes.”

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