Are fast food tomatoes as nutritious as "salad" tomatoes

I’ve been wondering about the lettuce, tomatoes, onions, olives, etc. that the Subways and McDonalds of the world use on their sandwiches. Are they of the same quality (in terms of nutritiousness, healthiness and quality) as their counterparts found in grocery stores and salad shops?

Why wouldn’t they be?

Well, OK, they aren’t high-end super-organic lovingly-tended-by-virgins elite quality, but then neither is the stuff you get in the grocery store, which is probably at least (at least) a week old by the time you see it. Fast food will use iceberg lettuce, and probably not the most expensive imported olives, and so forth, but it actually is comparable to what you get at your local store.

Do lettuce and tomatoes have any nutritional value to start with? At least in the quantities found in your typical burger or sub, it’s mostly water anyway, right?

Vitamins, fiber.

You are mostly water yourself, but I am sure that is not all there is to you.

Actually, depending on what your grocery store stocks, there is likely to be a significant nutritional difference between a fast-food tomato and a grocery store tomato.

The idea that it’s just a hippy-dippy feel-good difference between “regular” produce and local produce is flat-out wrong.

The average tomato from a factory farm has decreased significantly in nutritional value over the last 50 years, because they have been bread for things like size, uniformity of shape, and ease of picking (as opposed to things like taste or nutrition), and because they are picked green off of the vine and then gassed to make them turn red (which does not mean they are ripe).

Your grocery store may stock the same tomatoes that McDonalds uses on their burgers, but it is also possible that it carries from suppliers who are smaller (than the massive farms in Florida and California) and grow more nutritional and flavorful fruit.

(I read this book this past winter and it really opened my eyes on the issue of tomatoes and ‘big agriculture’ in the US)

I should know this, being into growing tomatoes but i dont. some say that growing food on soils that are farmed over and over may reduce the nutritional content - i havent looked into this.

With lettuce Cos is supposed to have better nutritional value than the more common iceberg, it also has better taste.

In my experience, grocery stores stocking local produce is a rare, rare, rare event. And, even if they wanted to, it’s impossible to stock local tomatoes for 10 months of the year in many climates in the US. So, even if the store is inclined, the local tomatoes are available in July, and that’s it. If you want tomatoes in February, you’re going to get industrially farmed ones unless you live in one of those climates that supports tomato farming year round (and thus, industrial tomato farms).

So, sure, non-industrially farmed tomatoes might be more nutritious (and they usually taste better) I don’t find it very likely that such a specimen is found at the average grocery store on the average day.

Yeah. Dry out a head of iceberg and you get something like a brussel sprout. The tomato will end up the size of a cherry. And you’re only getting small bits of that.

I don’t know about the nutritional value, but restaurants prefer the uniform tomatoes that tend to have the least flavor.

This has been my experience as well. I’ve seen local produce commonly sold in two types of places; rural family run locations that take seasonal produce from the local farmers, and upscale shops in very expensive urban neighborhoods where the clientele doesn’t mind paying $2.50 for a locally (like within 100 miles - shipped the day it’s picked) grown, organic tomato.

The burger itself is nearly 75% water. I’m not sure that water content is really very meaningful in this context.

What makes you think your average grocery store (not the upscale ones in wealthy neighborhoods) is going to stock anything other than the least expensive wholesale factory-farm tomatoes? And, as noted, in most of the continental US locally grown, vine-ripened tomatoes are just not available for 10-11 months of the year.

As someone who grows most of our annually consumed vegetables in my own backyard rest assured I am well aware of the differences between factory farmed and locally grown food.

I live in northern Indiana. Locally grown tomatoes are available only a couple months of the year. Any time else they are coming from hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away. Even during tomato season not that many local grown tomatoes are available because most local farmers concentrate on corn and soybeans, not table vegetables.

My local stores actually do post where their fruits and vegetables come from, so it’s not a mystery or an “I suppose”. Local tomatoes are NOT offered except in very limited amounts for very limited time periods.

It depends.

It is possible to manage farm soils in such a manner as to retain or even increase their value, but it’s not a given.

“Better taste” is, of course, a matter of opinion. Aside from that, I’ve long suspected the use of iceberg lettuce on burgers and other fast food has as much to do with crunch and texture as anything else, and that iceberg doesn’t seem to wilt as fast when subjected to heat and air.

You know its funny, I belong to a farm share. It’s an organic farm. You would think that people who buy shares in an organic farm might have some notion that a)non-industrially produced veggies don’t look as perfect and go bad faster and b)there is a risk involved in farming. I mean, that’s the whole reason farm shares exist!

But, oh, the bitching and moaning: my peaches went bad after three days! The tomato crop was destroyed by a hurricane, what am I supposed to do now? The corn has cornworms in the tops, ew! (hello… organic? Means limited pesticides?). Why are my sweet potatoes all different sizes? JESUS! SHUT UP.

It’s not hard to see that despite brave words, most people WANT the uniformity and shelf life and bug-damage-free looks of industrial produce, despite the fact they claim not to want it. Even when they are going out of their way NOT to get it.

Yeah, but that still leaves an ounce of dried animal. The dried lettuce and tomato will amount to far less than that. They’re an inconsequential part of a fast food sandwich nutritionally. They do little for flavor either, and are there mainly for visual presentation (but that does end up affecting many people’s perception of flavor and satiety).

Remember… the darker the fruit the more nutritious and the tomatoes in both fast food places and supermarkets are not very dark. Compared to heirloom varieties black krim and Japanese blacks. They are really deep read and delicious. Even still… fast food and supermarket tomatoes are better than no tomatoes.

This is why I keep it firmly in mind that my garden, no matter how large and productive, is a supplement to my overall diet and not a mainstay. Things Go South on a regular basis, it’s annoying. This week, only half the radishes had globe roots, the other half were stringy. Some of the lettuce bolted, went to seed, and fell over before we could get to eating it. All my chard died this spring. Twice. (On the upside, the spinach and the bok choy both did unusually well). The green leafy stuff is nibbled on and when being cleaned/processed for eating finding of bugs is commonplace. The spouse is forbidden to be in the kitchen during food processing because of how squicked he gets seeing this stuff which is all perfectly normal, natural, and used to be a frequent adjunct to eating at all.

We developed the hybrid, industrial foods in part to even out the production ups and downs of natural and organic farming. In the old days people would simply not have a particular item for a year if the crop failed (or sometimes longer) and removing other lifeforms from one’s food was something you *hoped *the cook managed prior to said food arriving at the table.

There’s a role for non-organic food production, mainly that of preventing outright starvation which, again, used to be all too commonplace even in the more advanced areas of the globe. This is a non-trivial accomplishment. It’s why such foods will continue to play a role in the diet of all but the wealthiest people. Fast food isn’t poison, the problem is eating too much of it, not that someone is eating it at all.

There are also choices to be made. You can, for example, go to Subway, NOT ask for extra meat or cheese (probably one of the more common requests I hear while in those stores is for more of those items) and load up on the vegees. It’s not a perfect meal, but it does supply some nutrition and does so without resorting to frying stuff. Or, if one is going to a burger joint one can opt to pick the smaller option, such as a hamburger at McDonald’s rather than a Big Mac or a Whopper Jr. at Burger King instead of up-sizing everything which reduces the excess calories consumed.

Essentiqlly all commercial tomatoes other than those promoted as locally grown farm-fresh are picked green and force-ripened with ethylene. Probably all ‘organic’ tomatoes and all ‘farm-fresh’ are vine-ripened. Foirce-ripened tomatoes are noticeably less sweet and sourer (not synonymous but complementary) than vine-ripened, having significantly less of the complex sugars that help give fresh tomatoes their unique taste. Instead, they have more organic acids. I believe I recall correctly that they also have significantly less Vitamin C than do vine-ripened tomatoes, though I do not have documentation proving this.

My non-specialty grocery store stocks tomatoes from this farm in Maine year-round. So, in some places, it is possible to get vine-ripened tomatoes for most/all of the year. I’m not sure where the OP lives, or what the options are where he/she lives.

Maybe you are. But you certainly were dismissive and disparaging of even the suggestion that there might be any difference between food sources for McDonalds and a grocery store or restaurant. Grocery stores source things locally/regionally all the time, as do many restaurants. So there often is a difference between the two. Sure, you can get a McDonalds-grade tomato at the grocery store, but you also can usually find better options as well.

Yep. In fact, that’s a big part of why iceberg lettuce was developed; to retain freshness and crispness during shipping.

Yes, that is why I said average grocery store. SOME stores provide locally grown all year round but the prices tend to be premium. Those greenhouse tomatoes your local grocery is offering also cost more. If you live someplace like I do, where Aldi’s is a major grocery chain, it is unlikely they’ll be offered because the locals don’t have a lot of disposable income to pay premium prices.

Did you blast past the part where I said my local grocery stores - not just Aldi’s but our other chains which are a bit more upscale - post where their produce comes from? And not just on occasion, they always have that information available. You can’t get local-grown tomatoes in my area out of the local season. Unlike your location in Maine, no one here is growing them in greenhouses year round. I question your assumption that your local supply chains are typical of the rest of the country.

And nice moving the goalposts - we were discussing grocery tomatoes, not those offered in restaurants which may or may not have the same sources as the fast food chains.

Yes. The tomato plant grows for it’s own needs, and thus if the soil etc is lacking in certain minerals, the plant itself will be stunted, etc.

No doubt, a locally grown tomato is hwaaaay tastier than those “picked green then artifically ripened marvels”. But the nutrition is the same.

Of course, factory grown food has pesticides, etc. They are likely not dangerous.

Can you substantiate this with a cite, since others have effectively contradicted it?