seawater and cherry tomatoes

Jess's picture

This intriguing little item in todays NYTimes:

April 29, 2008 Observatory Cherry Tomatoes Get a Seawater Boost


Is there anything better than a ripe tomato, fresh off the vine?

Maybe there is. How about a fresh, ripe tomato grown with seawater?

Italian researchers report that the nutritional content of tomatoes — cherry tomatoes, in this case — improves when the plants are irrigated with diluted seawater.

Cristina Sgherri and colleagues at the University of Pisa grew cherry tomatoes with normal irrigation water and with water diluted with 12 percent seawater. They found that the seawater tomatoes were about 60 percent smaller by weight, on average, than those grown with regular water. But the seawater tomatoes were tastier, with higher acidity and a higher concentration of sugars.

Where the seawater tomatoes really stood out, though, was in concentrations of antioxidants, including vitamins C and E and chlorogenic acid. The findings were reported in The Journal of Agricultural Chemistry.

The researchers say that using seawater would be useful in areas like Sicily where freshwater supplies are limited. And as to the smaller size of the tomatoes, they suggest that because of the greater nutritional value, farmers might be able to charge more.