Tomato Fest 2010 at Maya's Farm

This past Saturday, The Farm at South Mountain was packed with locals eager to learn about, and taste, delicious ripe tomatoes at Slow Food Phoenix's Tomato Fest 2010. The name of the event sounded so similar to Spain's famed "La Tomatina" festival in which gazillions of folks pummel each other with ripe tomatoes that I half-expected a tomato-flinging orgy.

The folks from Scottsdale's Crudo Cafe take a break to buy some plants.

But this event was strictly educational, with a focus on planting and growing tomatoes in the desert. Local growers Dave Larkin, Carl Seacat and Tim Moore gave talks on tomato care. Maya Dailey of Maya's Farm was around, answering questions about planting and directing visitors towards the tomato plant that would best suit their needs. "Now is the time to plant them," says Dailey


Pop Quiz: You've probably heard that tomatoes and other vegetables won't grow in desert soil. True or false? (answer after the jump) 

Maybe Slow Food Phoenix didn't plan for so many visitors, but by noon, the food booths were picked clean. Not one whole tomato in sight! Quiessence's tomato soda booth (an interesting concept, fresh tomato juice with sparkling water and a touch of vanilla) had only two little cups left, and Crudo Cafe was down to their last plate of caprese. The other booths had a handful of bruschetta or tomato noodles left, but nowhere near enough to last until the event's close at 4 p.m.

"We need as a culture to change the direction of our country," says Dailey. "Taking back the reins on our food is the only way it's going to happen." Here, here! We'll raise a glass of tomato soda to that.

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