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CHAPTER 4

THE TOMATO IN SOCIETY

The tomato plant probably started being cultivated for the fruit it provided and, through genetics, we reaped its full potential, managing to obtain (or is it create?) a wide range of varieties. Clearly, both agriculture and botany have played a key role in the taste, shape and size of the tomatoes we eat today.

But what about the role of chemistry, technology and economics? How have these fields affected the tomato? What place does the tomato occupy in society? These questions are addressed in this chapter. Appreciating how other spheres relate and interact will help us to understand more about tomatoes.

Due to its relevance we turn firstly to botany, examining the tomato plant and its fruit from a botanical point of view and explaining its morphology, the taxa into which it has been classified throughout history, up to the present day. We then analyse what the genetic improvement consists of.

We then turn our attention to the agronomic aspect of the tomato: what is involved in the cultivation of the tomato plant and what are its particularities? We examine the different types of cultivation employed and the fruit obtained. In relation to this, we review the best-known typologies and provide data on tomato production, analysing the consequences on the environment. We then refocus on our object of study to delve deeper, studying the chemical composition of the tomato and examining not only the unelaborated product, but also the molecules of elaborated tomato products and the technological properties that are manifested during elaboration.

We address technological aspects, explaining the impact technology has had on the areas it is involved in: agriculture, botany, the restaurant business. And we see how law, politics, economics and trade influence the production, distribution and consumption of tomatoes.

We conclude with a brief review of other areas it has impacted, such as transport, culture and art, etc.

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