I was invited to attend the Fall Harvest for the family-owned, family-run tomato company, Red Gold. I love farms since rice farming is in my family blood. I thought it would be fun to visit the family tomato farms and learn all about how they farm tomatoes and why the the middle of the U.S. may be the best place to grow tomatoes. However, I had other obligations so I asked my friend, PamWattenbarger if she’d like to attend for me. I thought she would be a great fit because she loves farms too and because she is an amazing blogger as well. You can find more of her writing and some great gluten-free recipes over at simplysouthernmom.com Today, she will share with you her experience at the Red Gold Fall Tomato Harvest. Pam did attend the press trip but received no monetary compensation all opinions expressed are her own.
Red Gold Tomatoes: Fresh From Family Farms
I grew up on a farm where we raised hundreds of acres of crops each year. I have a soft spot for farmers and try to support them, along with family owned businesses, whenever I can. Naturally, when I was invited to attend the Red Gold “Farm to Table” fall tomato harvest event and discovered their slogan, “Grown by Families, Enjoyed by Families,” I said an enthusiastic “yes.” Red Gold has been owned by the same family for three generations and their one goal is to “produce the freshest, best tasting tomato products in the world.”
Red Gold Fall Tomato Harvest
We began our journey into the Red Gold experience by visiting Triple S Farms, one of the fifty family owned farms, which produce the tomatoes for the company. Many of these farmers are 3rd generation farmers. I raise a small crop of tomato plants each year and have trouble with tomato rot if they touch the ground. Red Gold has developed a tomato with a thicker skin that resists rot.
Their pride in the company comes alive when visiting their production facilities. We toured the Orestes plant, which produces their tomato sauces, diced tomatoes and other canned tomato products. I was intrigued with the process, beginning with the tomatoes enjoying a “spa bath.” The tomatoes were unloaded from the delivery trucks via a water bath process that gently floated them off the trucks without bruising. From there, they were washed several times, sorted and transported into the factory without ever being touched by human hands! The Elwood Factory, which produces their ketchup products and sauce products, follows the same procedures, but without the sorting process.
Because of the short growing season in the area, the tomato crops are bred to turn red around the same time, allowing the Orestes facility to produce the majority of their products during a ten week session during the months of August through October. It was amazing to see how many tomatoes could be canned per minute!
We also spent time with the Research and Development Department, testing some of their new products and learning about their stringent guidelines for size, shape and color of their tomatoes. Also, they earned major points with me for their sustainability. They plan to be 100% waste free by 2016, recycling everything, including tomato peels, which are dried and used as fertilizer and pet food products. They have also just developed new BP free packaging for their tomatoes, testing for several years to make sure they would have quality packaging before implementing it into their products. I was surprised to discover how quickly they can the tomatoes to preserve freshness; from delivery time until the tomatoes are packaged and stored in the warehouse is around 48 hours!
Not only does Red Gold believe in supporting local farmers, they’ve made it a mission to help others. This year they have teamed up with Luke Bryan to sponsor the Farm Tour 2015, a series of general admission concerts on farms around the country. The proceeds from these concerts will help support scholarships for children of farmers.
One of the highlights of our visit was a trip to Kelley Agricultural Museum, where we were treated to delicious cocktails and appetizers, plus introduced to the Reinhart family, who shared their passion for the future of Red Gold. We were also treated to homemade tomato chutney, prepared by their media coordinator, Lydia.
I will be sure to look for the Red Gold and Tuttorossa brands on my local grocery shelves. I already have plans to make more tomato chutney and a delicious cheesy tomato rice dish. Have you tried Red Gold tomatoes? Do you think you will?