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Springsteen. Bon Jovi. Jersey Shore fist pumpers. An armpit with stink lines. These are all common things people associate with New Jersey. However, the Garden State is also the home of the famous Jersey tomato.
Tomatoes are a tasty way to boost intake of lycopene, a powerful phytonutrient that is known to act as an anti-inflammatory agent and aid in disease prevention. Research has shown a connection between eating this nightshade veggie (OK, it’s actually a fruit) and a reduced risk of cancer and heart disease.
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During the summertime, tomatoes of all varieties are grown in the 50 states. So what makes the ones produced in Jersey so special?
“I’m not exactly sure why,” admits Rutgers University professor Thomas J. Orton, Ph.D., who works in the department of plant biology and pathology. “If you ask people around the country, ‘What about Jersey?’ they’ll say the best thing about Jersey is the tomato.”
CHEW ON THIS: Tomatoes are a rich source of vitamins A and C, which support immune health and tissue growth.
Unfortunately, over the past three decades, many have publicly decried the decline in the taste of their homegrown tomatoes. To remedy this, scientists at Rutgers spent the past seven years attempting to improve the state’s most sought-after piece of produce. Their answer: the Rutgers 250.
Named in honor of the school’s 250th anniversary, the Rutgers 250 is a reinvention of Rutgers’ original 1934 varietal. Orton says to expect the rebooted Jersey tomatoes to be “more firm, have better color, and have a higher yield overall,” along with a “sweeter and more acidic” flavor.
Orton recommends eating the 250s with only a hint of balsamic vinegar and some basil.
FOR MORE info or to purchase Rutgers 250 seeds, visit njfarmfresh.rutgers.edu.