Rotten Tomatoes!

Rotten Tomatoes!

Thanks for joining us as we head towards our third and final stopping place: Carboneras, a little fishing village on the coast near Almería.
Today’s blog may not be what you expected, any more than the Costa del Sol was what I anticipated. I lived down here near Málaga for a few months when I was studying Spanish, you see. I suppose it often happens, doesn’t it, that the mind locks in a memory, almost like a film. And you fully expect to play the film just as it was when you return. Even after over 30 years, you think the actors may be different, but the countryside and the region will be unchanged. 
Laurie Lee put it beautifully in his novel “a Rose for Winter”, when he was describing visiting an old haunt…
“The town after all remained the truth, and I the shifting fable.”
Oh boy, did I get a shock. As we drove towards Málaga, I thought my eyes were playing tricks. Where I remembered  acres of rolling hills and vegetation running down to the sea, all I could see for miles and miles was plastic. Plastic tenting.
It followed us all along the coast, 
On either side of the coastal highway,
right down to the water, and butted up to hotel resorts.
I was expecting the concrete high rise holiday resorts; 
I really wasn’t expecting the plastic sheets which completely covered almost every square foot of land.
Farmer Dave was well informed. He was fully aware of the way the plants are grown here, in a soup of chemicals and fertilizer under acres of plastic. But even he was shocked at the scale of this development. It’s an estimated 135 square miles under plastic.
It was very upsetting to see actually. Bloody awful. I understand that people have created the demand for supermarkets to provide us with tomatoes and other vegetables all year round, for out of season salad and so on.
“Get it anytime. Fresh all year round” and all that jazz.
But one thing is for sure: Barbara Gray will only be eating in-season vegetables from now on. And tomatoes from Spain? Never again. I spoke to a young Spanish woman here in the town, and expressed my shock at the surrounding countryside. She shook her head and told me that she had worked in a sorting and packing factory for the tomatoes. They had had to wear protective masks there because of the chemical fumes from the fruits. Disturbing??
First thing next season, Barbara is going to get Dave to build a greenhouse, and then she is going to grow tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes. And peppers. And aubergines. And we thought they were sun kissed fruits of the earth! They don’t even see soil apparently! If an area is too hilly, they simply send the diggers in.
Call me picky, but I’d rather buy organic or naturally grown from now on. I usually bypassed that aisle because of the price. But hey. 
You have to see this to comprehend the vastness of it. And don’t mention EU subsidies to Dave (!!?##!!)
So there. Found a neat hotel at the end of the beach. 
Room with a view, or what?!
There is a huge A HUGE Power Station just round the corner, but I think I’ve said enough for one day.
Lots of love and tomatoes,

28 thoughts on “Rotten Tomatoes!

  1. So sorry about the shock of the plastic Barbara, it is sad the way 'market forces' work. At least you got a good view of sea, not Power Station. Perhaps you can move on to something less disturbing.

  2. We'll said Barbara. My husband and I have eaten organic veg for years, choosing to support the little local supplier rather than the big supermarkets. The food tastes so much better too, just looks a little less than perfect, and the spuds have soil on too! Enjoy growing your veggies next year – you won't be sorry xx

  3. You should have gone on through Carboneras over the mountain road to Mojacar (that's where I live)
    It is very quiet here at the moment but that's how we like it after the tourists of the summer. We always shop on the local markets and buy fruit and veg from the little stalls that perhaps only have two or three different fruits or veg, these stall holders grow there own. ok you get some weird shapes and sizes but who cares. Glad you liked Andalucia area of Spain.

  4. Thanks for this. Maybe if we saw the way our food is grown more often, we'd think twice. I buy English, where possible.
    I actually quite like power stations – from a distance. There's one across the estuary from me. It's my landmark for home.

  5. I've grown used to the plastic, think I first saw it when we were in Almeria and wondered what had happened! The tomatoes sold in Spain are nothing like the ones that end up over here either – I prefer all the different sizes and colours of what you get in their supermarkets – unless that's changed too ….. we've been hotels recently and not had to shop for ourselves. Your hotel view looks lovely!

  6. At least your Hotel Room looks perfect! At Seaton Carew a little beach near me, if you turn your back to the Industrial Towers your could almost be somewhere really nice? In Summer me and my sisters que up for my Dad's tomatoes they have so much more flavour – I particularly love the Yellow ones. Me and my Kids once grew carrots but all that came out of the container was green leaves, so I said "don't worry kids you can't always get results" . My Paul emptied the container a little while later and said "why didn't you use these carrots"? gutted! I didn't know they stayed hidden , they were really big too. ! xx

  7. We get a bit of plastic in the fields here, but nothing like your photos – that's really quite disturbing! Sadly I don't have enough garden here to grow my own, but in my next house…. Enjoy the last days of your holidays, Susan x

  8. How sad to see the countryside you remember changed so much Barbara and I think I will definitely steer clear of Spanish tomatoes if I can. Nice view from your balcony even if there was a power station round the corner. x

  9. That's a very thought provoking blog! I guess I'm not alone in saying that it's something I've not really thought about before. Like most people who lead busy live we rush around the supermarket after work every Friday, grabbing what we need and getting the hell out if there as quickly as possible so we can get home and order our takeaway! It's not ideal but it is what it is! However, I will try to take a bit more time to think before I buy!

  10. Hi Barb,
    Really sad and depressing to see all of the plastic. We humans have a lot to answer for! My Dave grows a lot of veg and tomatoes. I must say the potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, chillies, strawberries,raspberries,blackberries that we had this year were absolutely fabulous. We are just about to start on the onions and shallots that he stored. Your hotel room certainly has a tremendous view too. Enjoy the rest of your break. Love Alison xx

  11. How upsetting that such a beautiful place should have such an eye sore. You cannot beat home grown so I am all for the green house. I'm sure Dave would enjoy being in the garden growing things! I never buy anything that has traveled to far. English tomatoes have much more taste like our strawberry and apples and lamb and beef……I could go on! Before the common market you could get much more produce grown here. Progress! Hope you have a safe journey home. Regards Joan x

  12. We do get a lot of the plastic in the Vale of Evesham, but that is just to protect the crop from late frosts in the main. I do agree about eating fruit in season though. There is nothing like the flavour of naturally grown fruit, but watch out for the varieties you choose. Research and choose them for their flavour. You can get seeds of old non-commercial varieties from the Heritage seed bank if ou want to go that way. I am sure the farmer in Dave will soon suss that out. I will never buy strawberries nor asparagus unless it is in season and grown locally in the Vales of Evesham. xx Maggie

  13. Home grown tomatoes are definitely the best. Though I never saved much money or effort the results are just so worthwhile. I truly rejoice that Spain, Portugal etc. are no longer quite so poverty- stricken as they were, but there's clearly a high cost to pay.
    Lovely view, sounds like a wonderful holiday. x

  14. Hello Barb, well this is very disturbing and a real eye opener. We have grown our own tomatoes this year again in pots, and they were really lovely, and we could have a load of different varieties. It is hard to just buy organic when you have a tight budget. The view from the hotel is magical, at least it did not include the power station. Take care. Bx

  15. Hi Barbara,
    that´s not very surprising. I only eat tomatoes from my mothers garden in summer or from a funny lady which sells her different sorts of tomatoes on a saturday market. She was on TV once and so I know how she is fond of growing tomatoes and where they come from.
    No one needs strawberries in winter!
    Rolf xxx

  16. I much prefer home grown veggies and fruit. I used to have a little market garden where I supplied fresh veg, herbs, some fruit and flowers to the hotel my husband was head chef at. I wish I had the space (and the fitness) to have a plot here, don't think I have room for a greenhouse! At present I grow weeds in my garage….really…they are for our baby tortoises, to see them through the winter. Any chance you can bring back some sunshine…bit wet and drab here lol. Xx

  17. So sorry you had such a shock. On the bright side, you have become another ambassador for eating seasonally, locally produced food. I know it is easier said than done for many but where there is a will, there's a way. Thanks for your ramblings this week. Very enjoyable, take care xxx

  18. I totally agree that we should be eating in season and few food miles produce. It always tastes better. We have the last of this seasons' tomatoes ready to eat now. Finally they have rippened. I am not much of a gardener, so I grow everything in planters. We have strawberries, two types of raspberries, blueberries, carrots and previously have had cucumbers, peppers and even pumpkins, although the pumpkins didn't come to anything!! We also potatoes in big bags and they do really well.
    I have a greenhouse and do plant from seed where I can to help with the cost so I more money for craft stuff! I am sure that you will enjoy planting your own produce and nurturing it, watching it grow before savouring the taste.
    More people should take an interest in where their food comes from. I am a campaigner for fair trade and also for less food miles. Even in this country we need to campaign on behalf of the milk farmers as they are often paid less than the milk costs to produce. Many are going bankrupt every week. How is that fair trade, getting paid a fair price for your work?
    Thank you for making us aware of the tomato indusrty in Spain. If more of us shop with thought then we can change they way they are grown.
    Enjoy the last of your break and enjoy the scenery that has not yet been overcome.

  19. Well Barbara, its a sad state of affairs isn't it!!! I tend to look for UK grown stuff – the mileage thing that supermarkets promote – but even then you still cannot be assured of how stuff is grown.
    So home grown has got to be the best and oh so rewarding and more flavoursome!!!
    I know as you go down the M2 towards Margate there are huge green houses under which force grown are many fruit and veg – its a sad state of affairs really – so perhaps you need to diversify and bring in the Clarity brand of fruit and veg with farmer Dave at the helm!!!
    Much Love Barbarax

  20. Go for it Dave! We have a 40 ft tunnel and I 'share farm' with my friend. This year we have had an abundance of toms, chillies, peppers and aubergines, even very early new potatoes. You can't beat home grown veg. Anne x

  21. you definitely can't beat home grown. i'm still picking some tomatoes from my plants. i only had 3 plants but quite some fruit. i guess no toms from Spain for me from now on, hugs xx

  22. A sad state of affairs, there is so much wrong with our world and some can't see the damage they are doing.its all about cost isn't it. At least we have Claritystamp and you Barbara to keep us sane???? And creative. And at least you had a beautiful room with a view. Don't work too hard when you arrive home!Wxx

  23. Move a little inland and look at the orange groves. We stayed near Torrevieja. We used to cycle through the groves. The plants are pipe fed water and chemicals. At the base of the plants the chemicals crystallise. Terrifying crystal coloured bluey green. Profit is the key and supermarkets drive wholesale prices down and those that don't produce at the price go out of business.

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