Tomato pricing woes hit campus: As tomato prices rise nationally, students now have to request the red fruit

by   Posted on March 25th, 2010 in Uncategorized

By Sonya Hudson, Managing Editor

Always forgetting to ask for your sandwich without that tomato? Well, now you don’t have to. Tomatoes at dining facilities across campus will now be available only upon request.

During the prolonged January cold snap, Florida farmers, the main source for fresh winter tomatoes for almost the entire country, lost about 70 percent of their crop.
According to a Feb. 25 United States Department of Agriculture report, about two-thirds of the tomato crop in the major southwestern production region was destroyed.

This means an increase on the prices of tomatoes nationwide. A year ago, the average wholesale price for a 25-pound box of tomatoes was $6.50 compared to today’s price of $30.

Reggie Brown of the Florida Tomato Grower’s Exchange, a tomato farmer cooperative in Maitland, Fla., told The Associated Press that normally Florida’s growers would ship about 25 million pounds of tomatoes a week, but now they are only shipping about a quarter of that.

In an effort to save money George Mason University has chosen to offer tomatoes upon request only.

“We’re not going to just put tomatoes on every sandwich,” said Denise Ammaccapane, resident district manager of Mason dining.
Ammaccapane emphasized that tomatoes are available upon request with no charge, but in an effort to save money, The Mason Rathskeller and Southside will be holding the tomatoes.

Many restaurants beyond Mason’s campus are also making tomatoes available only by request, while others are coping with the increased prices by not offering the fruit or by looking outside the United States for sources.

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