Updated: Nov 15, 2019
Have you ever thought about the amazing power of tomatoes?
In 2017, I was at the Tree of Life Center, US as a garden intern. This beautiful sanctuary is located in Patagonia, Arizona, near the U.S. Mexico Border. According to Dr. Gabriel Cousens, Patagonia was ranked the third hottest place in the U.S. The second hottest place? Death Valley. I arrived when the burning summer heat was at it's peak as a garden work volunteer. I spent 7 hours a day in 100+ degrees. This made being in the garden difficult. Fortunately, I had a lifeline to help beat the heat: tomatoes.
At the Tree of life, I was responsible for growing 3 green houses of tomatoes, in addition to several varieties of organic produce. I was lucky to have direct access to an amazing antioxidant known as lycopene, found in abundance in tomatoes, which protects plants and us from the scorching rays of the sun.  I would eat lots of my own tomatoes off-the-vine everyday in my salads. And now...
I am proud to tell the tale that I have survived and not sunburned once in the scorching heat in Patagonia! :)
Tomatoes ripen in summer which is when we need lycopene the most! The saying, "Eat seasonally" is true. Seasonal tomatoes have the highest level of lycopene and give us the protection we need during summer time. In comparison, we cannot expect to have the same UV ray protection from tomatoes pre-picked months before natural ripening, shipped hundreds of miles away, and then gassed to force ripening. It has been shown that tomatoes ripened-on-the-vine have significantly higher levels of lycopene.  Nature just seems to provide the appropriate nutrients that we need at the appropriate timing. What an amazing fact!
What we can do:
Support local tomato farmers! Get the protection we need from local, seasonal tomatoes ripened-on-the-vine, which have higher levels of lycopene.. and flavor, too!
But if you like to enjoy tomatoes all year long like I do (mmm.... pizza), then not all hope is lost. Surprisingly, the freshest tomatoes most of the time are canned tomatoes since they are canned fresh from the farm.  Enjoy your comfort foods: pizza, spaghetti, home made ketchup, etc... But avoid refined flour or refined sugar that would otherwise counteract the positive effects of lycopene.
At Journey Cafe, we carry local tomatoes for our spaghetti pasta featuring sauteed local vegetables, whole wheat pasta, and from-scratch marinara sauce. We also make our own tomato sauces, from scratch, for our chimichanga, sloppy joe, and grilled vegetables panini. So why not. Come enjoy your favorite comfort foods at Journey Cafe and experience the magical healing power of foods.. and lycopene. :)