Vine Connoisseur John Gulius Relishes the Richness of Organic Tomatoes

Vine Connoisseur John Gulius Relishes the Richness of Organic Tomatoes

Tomatoes have always been central to good nutrition, great cuisine, and at times spirited debates over how to classify one of nature’s most utilitarian wonders.

Years ago, British journalist Miles Kington settled that question. “Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit,” he wrote. “Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.”
We’re still learning from tomatoes, and about them. A prime example is a study from a research team at the University of Barcelona that shows organic tomatoes are far healthier than conventionally-grown varieties. The apparent reason: They’ve earned their nutrient-rich profiles the old-fashioned way, in the daily struggle to survive.

John Gulius, South Carolina’s landscaping and gardening pro, has long known this about organic tomatoes. As he explains it, conventional farming methods have essentially made modern tomatoes fat and lazy. Organic farming results in a hardier tomato, a plant that relies on its natural defenses to thrive. Defensive compounds like polyphenols make the organic tomato much richer in nutrients than its chemical-fed cousins.

“It’s all about how hard it is for a plant to access nitrogen,” he says. “With conventional farming practices, especially on farms owned by huge agribusinesses, plants are continually doused with nitrogen in the form of artificial fertilizer. Organic farmers don’t layer their crops with artificial compounds, and so the amount of nitrogen is less. This in turn triggers a natural defense reflex in plants which boosts levels of nutrients, minerals and secondary metabolites. That’s not only great for the plant, but wonderfully healthy for those of us at the top of the food chain.”

From his base in Greenville, John Gulius operates Carolina Turf Solutions, a company that, according to its website, uses a “holistic approach that integrates advanced knowledge, sustainable practices, and personalized care to cater to the unique needs of each landscape.”

He believes a landscaper must be an environmental steward, a professional who understands what types of nutrients specific plants need, and in which proportion. With this knowledge, Gulius is able to make use of plant-based fertilizers in many situations. He’s learned that by using cover crops, it’s possible to feed the growth of plants without building excess amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus in the soil.

Reporting on the Barcelona study, Science Daily reviewed the benefits of organic cultivation, which builds the character of the young green orbs as they redden on the vine: “Organic tomatoes contain higher levels of phenolic compounds than conventional tomatoes. Phenolic compounds are organic molecules found in many vegetables with proven human health benefits. Polyphenols — natural antioxidants of plant origin — are considered to be of great nutritional interest because its consumption is associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular and degenerative diseases, and some forms of cancer.”

University of Barcelona researcher Rosa M. Lamuela told the publication: “The benefit of taking polyphenols through foods is that they contain a wide variety of such molecules, which are increased. This would be more beneficial to health than the intake of supplements. Tomatoes also contain lycopene and other carotenoids, and vitamin C.”

The University of Barcelona team found that these dramatic nutritional differences are also apparent in tomato juice and ketchup. Whether in a drinking glass or condiment bottle, tossed in a salad or stewed in marinara sauce, the organic variety is richer, healthier and more flavorful — a tomato true to nature, and proud of its roots.

Article Submitted By Community Writer

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