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Sensors, Blockchains Meet Tomatoes

Can the Internet of Tomatoes bring back juicy tomatoes?
7/12/2017 00:01 AM EDT
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KangarooCourt
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Re: ...
KangarooCourt   9/13/2017 1:48:38 AM
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Farming is a business, they all want profitability, at least enough to survive on.  The problem is that over a number of years farmers have become less influential in how they obtain profitability, as the smaller family-owned farms have been pushed by large-scale farming businesses and large retailers to produce "same-same" product.  Have you ever tasted milk from cows fed on lucern or clover?  It's a very distinct taste, and this taste variation is frowned upon by large retailers who want to present a single taste to consumers who expect all cows milk to taste the same.

There has been some push-back by farming groups starting niche-market access like Organic branding, however the large retailers have seen the profits in this sector and taken over the Organic Standards to control the market.  The same story applies to the definition of Free-Range eggs.

At the end of the day it's the consumers who demand taste control, it's the retailers who demand shelf-life and presentation, and it's the farmers who are lumped with delivering the solution.  Oh, and I haven't even mentioned the highly profitable herbicide and GM crop companies yet ...

dbartow
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Re: ...McDonald's is the 600lb gorilla of tomatoes
dbartow   7/24/2017 2:48:40 PM
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McDonalds is the largest consumer of tomatoes in the US so they control the taste (or lack there of) and other characteristics of this fruit. The large farms that supply tomotoes to McDonalds follow their specs for species grown, watering, fertilizer, and more to produce a tomato that is worthy of gracing a Big Mac. Shelf life and texture have obiviously a higher priority than taste for McDonalds so this is why we are stuck with most tomatoes being tasteless. 

If McDonalds upgrades there specs for tomatoes to include better taste, farmers will immediately rush to meet their needs. Farmers are turely customer driven which is evident in all supermarkets now having large amounts of organic vegies for sale.

P.S. McDonalds is also the largest consumer of ground beef in the US so they highly control the characteristics of this product raised by farmers too. 

sranje
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Realjjj comments - this time on tomatoes
sranje   7/17/2017 8:17:16 PM
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I enjoy REALJJJ extensive comments on just about any EETimes articles.   It is nice to have his opinions / predictions on almost everything

In case of tomatoes -- most have no taste at all (like a "chalk") -- if they have equal number of invaluable nutrients/vitamins I don't know.

But anybody who is still alive (and goes to a local Farmer's markets) can taste a difference between a tasty tomatoes and "a good looking plastic", i.e. totally tasteless tomato

 

denis.lachapelle
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Competition: Is it really open to all?
denis.lachapelle   7/17/2017 7:40:53 AM
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Does public blockchain will make the data fully open to all? A farmer may be concerned with his data being share with his competitors unless he sees more value in seing others data than his data being shared with others. This issues will have to be addressed in some way.

denis lachapelle

www.cysca-sysacom.com

  

sssmyser
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Better Data Comes from Better Sensors
sssmyser   7/14/2017 5:14:40 PM
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I'll comment on the sensor technology. Small size and low cost NIR spectroscopy is enabling new applications and use cases. We are already seeing this for in field and inline applications in various industries. As the size and cost of these sensors continues to shrink, we are going to see more and more applications and use cases. The better the sensor, the better the quality of data that then can be interpreted and analyzed, and the better the use case.

Doug_S
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Re: ... regulating taste?
Doug_S   7/12/2017 11:10:30 AM
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Tomatoes that taste 'blah' are because of the preservatives used and storage conditions, that's why if you grow your own - even if you don't pay any attention to them at all - they taste way better than what you can buy in the store unless they are locally grown organics that cost a fortune. The only way chain restaurants can get consistent tomatoes is to get the Subway tomatoes that are consistently blah.

Having someone judge how tomatoes 'should' taste to me is like having them judge IPAs for me. I don't necessarily agree with others' opinions on beer, so why should I on tomatoes? If there were IPAs universally agreed as good, you wouldn't see so many different varieties that go in such different directions. Looking at the 3 axis tomato graph in the picture, do I like sweet, salty or acidic, and in what proportions? I have no idea, though if I had to buy right this minute I'd choose the Stop and Shop ones that are sweet and salty but not acidic. But maybe after I actually tasted them I'd have a different opinion.

I suppose if I figured out my preferences I could buy tomatoes I liked more easily, but that doesn't guarantee that the chefs in restaurants would agree with my opinion and use the same ones. In some respects it might be better to have tasteless tomatoes than ones with a lot of taste but taste that you don't like!

realjjj
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Re: ... regulating taste?
realjjj   7/12/2017 11:03:01 AM
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Only if it creates economic value and for that, the marketing standards must change or the consumer needs to be empowered somehow to make taste relevant again. If we had well established taste (texture, nutritional value) groups for tomatoes, let's say from A to G, i might prefer A, you might love D and demand will shape supply. Would be much better than today when costs and pointless marketing standards shape supply and product design.

junko.yoshida
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Re: ... regulating taste?
junko.yoshida   7/12/2017 10:29:29 AM
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Indeed, ADI's team worked with local farmers since 2015 and developed a "taste" profile for tomatoes. That profile turns out to be very effective as it was able to identify four out of the top five tomatoes chosen by chefs as the best tomatoes at Boston Tomato Contest. Now farmers can use this profile to grow real tomatoes that taste like tomatoes.

dt_hayden
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Re: ... regulating taste?
dt_hayden   7/12/2017 9:50:51 AM
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Taste can be judged by competitions and taste panels, the same that is done with the exploding microbrew industry.  Similarly, McDonalds develops competitive suppliers by comparative taste testing to ensure their brand tastes the same everywhere while not divulging recipes of existing suppliers.


Underscoring the dismal labor conditions and misguided production standards detailed in "Tomatoland",  is the fact that producers will produce what the market demands.  Developing tools to facilitate on the vine taste testing could go a long way to facilitate this change in production metrics.


https://www.amazon.com/Tomatoland-Industrial-Agriculture-Destroyed-Alluring/dp/1449423450


I eat a subway veggie sandwich a couple times of week after swimming.  I can say the tomatoes used there are consistent in size, color, and ripeness, but have absolutely no taste.

 

realjjj
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Re: ... regulating taste?
realjjj   7/12/2017 9:16:04 AM
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A consumer gadget that can measure taste, texture and nutritional values of a fruit or vegetable in a non intrusive way would likely sell pretty well and i think Consumer Physics were working with ADI on integrating a spectrometer into a smartphone but the marketing focus was much broader. That could shift the market by bypassing regulators and giving consumers the tools to chose the best produce.

Edit: Integrating spectrometers in refrigerators could work too and would also reduce waste.

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