British Tomato Fortnight is celebrated for 14 days annually. The celebration starts on the Monday of the last full week of May, and it ends on a Sunday — from May 22 to June 4 this year.
British Tomato Fortnight celebrates the quality of British tomatoes. These tomatoes are usually grown in greenhouses due to the country’s temperamental climate. This means that the tomatoes are exposed to fewer pests and fewer pesticides, letting consumers feel certain about what they are eating and where it comes from.
During this week, you should look out for British tomatoes everywhere you go. Remember that tomatoes make up a lot of other food products such as ketchup, soup, and sauce, all of which are important parts of the British tomato world.
History of British Tomato Fortnight
The goal of British Tomato Fortnight is to create awareness about the high quality of tomatoes that the country produces. The two-week-long celebration aims to raise awareness about the health benefits of eating tomatoes. It also aims to encourage consumers to support local growers.
Tomatoes originate from the Andes. The Incas and Aztecs were the first to cultivate the fruit as early as 700 A.D. The English word tomato comes from the Aztec ‘tomatl.’ Tomato growers work year-round to ensure that tasty tomatoes are readily available. Tomatoes are usually grown in greenhouses, and these not only provide a protective and controlled environment but ensure that there is minimal contact with pests and pesticides. The first glass greenhouses were built in Kent and Essex.
The British eat about 500,000 tons of fresh tomatoes every year, but only a fifth of the tomatoes the British eat are actually from the U.K. — four out of five tomatoes that are eaten in the U.K. are imported.
British Tomato Fortnight, along with the British Tomato Growers’ Association which represents 90% of producers in the U.K., is hoping to change that by 2030.
These two weeks are also an opportunity to educate consumers about other benefits of eating locally grown produce, one of the benefits being that it is good for the environment. Growers invest in better practices and technology which in turn reduces the impact on the environment. They use smart water recycling and LED lighting for renewable energy generation. They use natural predators to control pests and native U.K. bumblebees to pollinate the plants. Sustainability is a big focus during British Tomato Fortnight.
British Tomato Fortnight timeline
Tomatoes first arrive in Europe.
John Gerard, one of the earliest tomato cultivators, publishes his book "Herbal."
Tomatoes aren’t widely eaten in the U.K. until this century.
Commercial tomato growing begins.
British Tomato Fortnight FAQs
Does the U.K. produce tomatoes?
Yes, but most of the tomatoes consumed there are imported.
Where do the tomatoes in the U.K. come from?
The tomatoes may come from different countries, but most come from the Netherlands.
How many tomatoes are eaten in the U.K.?
In Britain, people eat around 500,000 tons of fresh tomatoes every year.
British Tomato Fortnight Activities
Spend the next two weeks working on your tomato garden. Having a garden of fresh tomatoes is great for your physical health — the tomatoes have lots of nutrients, and gardening is great exercise!
Cook recipes that use tomatoes
Some of the most popular kinds of food in the world include tomatoes, like pizza. Alternatively, you can do some research and experiment with new tomato-based recipes.
Buy locally grown tomatoes
Buy tomatoes that are grown locally and support your local farmers. Locally sourced food requires less preparation and processing. To add to that, small farmers usually try to sell their produce right after they harvest it.
5 Interesting Facts About Tomatoes
Tomatoes were thought to be poisonous
The Latin name for the cultivated tomato is Lycopersicon, or wolf peach, which is a reflection of the belief that they were poisonous.
Tomatoes are fruit
Tomatoes are fruit, but we tend to use them as we do vegetables.
There are thousands of varieties
There are thought to be more than 3,000 varieties of heirloom or heritage tomatoes currently being grown globally and more than 15,000 known varieties in total.
The record for the heaviest tomato
The Guinness World Records’ record for the heaviest tomato weighed seven lbs 12 oz and was grown by G. Graham of Edmond, Oklahoma in the U.S. in 1986.
China produces the majority of our tomatoes
In 2019, the world production of tomatoes was 181 million tonnes, with China accounting for 35% of the total.
Why We Love British Tomato Fortnight
It supports local farmers
The goal of British Tomato Fortnight is to support local tomato farmers and the tomato industry. If we support the industry enough, it will keep on growing, and might even reach the point that the U.K. won’t need to import tomatoes anymore.
It teaches us to be aware of where our food comes from
British Tomato Fortnight educates us about where our food comes from. Nowadays, most of our food and produce undergo long processes and may even be treated with chemicals.
It supports sustainability
Sustainability and sustainable farming practices are a big focus around British Tomato Fortnight.
British Tomato Fortnight dates