BLOG: Oh Yes, We Have No Tomatoes
Just last week, my wife Helena and I found ourselves in the produce aisle of a major grocery store located within walking and smelling distance of the Ontario Food Terminal. And we couldn’t find any fresh tomatoes. None.
We found cherry tomatoes by the bushel and canned tomatoes, too. But no fresh red tomatoes.
And that was just plain weird. In a big giant chain grocery store.
This was one of those mega stores that you need to take a taxi around to see all of in one day. A guy about my age wearing an apron was re-aligning the red peppers, so Helena approached him.
“I can’t find any tomatoes.”
“And that’s because my truck hasn’t arrived yet.”
At my urging, he elaborated. He had been in the biz since before the Weather Channel was invented but this is the first time he ever had no tomatoes.
Turns out there’d been a power outage at the distribution center and trucks couldn’t be dispatched until the computers were up and running again. There had been a big storm and even the backup generators were down.
“Funny thing,” I said. “I have a feeling that though it’s an act of God, some human guy is going to get yelled at. Probably some guy waaaay down the food chain.”
“So far,” he responded, “that guy has been me.”
(Doesn’t it make you happy knowing that whenever something doesn’t go the way you’d like it to go, losing it with somebody always makes everything better. Every single time. And the lower down the line of authority the person you’re yelling at is, the more effective your wise yelling will be. The louder the better and what’s really great is if English is their second language. )
Anyway, I digress.
Later that day, I told Helena’s delightful mother, Ria Szybalski, about the tomato shortage. As I was talking to her, she was just getting ready to leave her house to celebrate her 80-somethingth birthday gambling at the Woodbine Racetrack.
She agreed that it’s rare that a Canadian grocery store has no tomatoes. She added that that was the kind of thing they became accustomed to, growing up in Germany during the war.
“There were lots of times food wasn’t available. I remember my mother hearing about food being on sale somewhere and she’d make my brother run as fast as he could to stand in line to get some.” I wonder if he yelled at the poor German grocer if he had run out of whatever.
These days, we have alternatives.
I didn’t have to make Helena run to the store. We live in the best country in the world. We don’t have to look very hard to get exactly what we need when we need it. And we don’t have a war.
So we just stopped at the family-run fruit and veggie market down the street from our house. I know for a fact that the owner of that little market gets his tomatoes every morning from the Ontario Food Terminal.