"Weis-Buy Can be your eyes"

Chuck Weisinger of Weis-Buy Farms Inc. looks through the Florida tomato fields with a smile.

Chuck, Arthur and Mark are tomato experts, and have helped to make Weis-Buy well known for its tomatoes. Chuck alone has been in the produce business for more than 50 years, and he likes to say that 'Weis-Buy is your best buy' - and it’s true. We buy and sell in large volume, and that helps us find the best deals. We can get consistent quality from our strong connections with growers and shippers. "Weis-buy can be your eyes," says Chuck. We're able to look at the tomatoes and get you photos.

Weis-Buy sells fresh tomatoes, and we have close relationships with growers and packers. Each day we gather information about tomatoes, researching availability, pricing and location. We follow our growers and packers seasonally as production moves from Florida north and west.

We source tomatoes 12 months a year because we know where to buy the best quality for the best price. Most growing areas have peak seasons, and Weis-Buy can advise you where the best tomatoes are when you need them. Roma tomatoes, grape tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, and tomatoes on the vine or in clusters, are also available year-round from Weis-Buy.

During the winter months, we have Florida and Mexican tomatoes. In the summer, we ship from Canada, California, and many eastern states. Tomatoes are field grown on stakes in Florida, but are grown without stakes in California. Round tomatoes are sold as mature greens and vine ripened. The majority of tomatoes from Mexico are greenhouse grown 'vine ripes,' while in Canada, tomatoes are grown in hothouses.

It's a vegetable - No, it's a fruit!

Tomatoes are a fruit and not a vegetable. Wait - tomatoes are a vegetable and not a fruit. It depends on who you talk to.

The U.S. government says it’s a vegetable. It’s a debate that has been going on since 1893 when the United States Supreme Court decided a tomato is a vegetable. Botanists disagree. The debate continues.

The tomato is the edible, mostly red fruit of the plant solanum lycopersicum, commonly known as a tomato plant. It originated in the South America in the Andes Mountains of Peru. The Spanish brought the tomato north into Mexico and the United States. Technically since a tomato has seeds it’s a fruit. But, tomatoes are usually called vegetables in most grocery stores and cookbooks.

In 1893, the U.S. Supreme Court heard a case that determined whether the tomato was a fruit or a vegetable. Since then the U.S. has categorized a tomato as a vegetable. That’s how it’s reported on the market reports. In that case the Supreme Court decided that tomatoes were vegetables because they are usually eaten and cooked like vegetables. The decision allowed the court to uphold a tax on imported tomatoes because back then vegetables were taxed and fruits were not.

The case was an action filed by John Nix, George Nix and Frank Nix against Edward Hedden the tax collector of the Port of New York. They wanted to recover back duties that were paid under protest. Even though they knew botanically that a tomato was a fruit because it is a seed-bearing structure growing from the flowering part of a plant, the court ruled otherwise.

The Supreme Court ruled that under U.S. customs regulations, the tomato should be classified as a vegetable and not a fruit. The decision was unanimous. It held that under the Tariff Act of 1883 that it used the ordinary meaning of the words “fruit” and “vegetable,” instead of the technical botanical meaning.

During the trial they used dictionary definitions of the words “fruit” and “vegetables” from Webster’s, Worcester’s and Imperial dictionaries as evidence. Two witnesses were called who had 30 years experience buying and selling produce. Since that trial in 1893 the U.S. has never changed this decision. In 2005, the New Jersey legislature cited Nix as a basis for a bill designating the tomato as the official state vegetable.

Where Do Our Tomatoes Come From?

The United States is one of the world's leading producers of tomatoes, second only to China. Fresh and processed tomatoes account for more than $2 billion in annual farm business.

Fresh tomatoes are produced in every state with commercial-scale production in about 20 States. California and Florida each produce fresh-market tomatoes on 30,000-40,000 acres which is almost two-thirds of total U.S. fresh-tomato acreage. Ohio, Virginia, Georgia, and Tennessee round out the top six tomato growing states.

Florida is the second-largest tomato-producing state and it has been first in producing fresh-market tomatoes for decades. Florida's season, October to June, with the greatest production in April and May and again in November to January.

California is the leading producer of all tomatoes in the United States, accounting for 96 percent of U.S. processing tomato output and about one-third of the fresh crop. Fresh-market tomatoes are produced across the state in each season except winter. California's share of national fresh-market output has remained between 25 and 37 percent since the 1980s. Other major fresh-market tomato-producing states are Virginia, Georgia, Ohio, Tennessee, North Carolina, New Jersey, and Michigan. Weis-Buy sources fresh tomatoes in all of these states.

Some estimates suggest that the U.S. fresh-tomato market is about evenly divided between food service and retail consumer sales. In terms of total consumption from all sources, about 70 percent is consumed at home, with 30 percent consumed away from home, according to a USDA survey.

The U.S. Department of Commerce has negotiated an agreement with Mexican tomato producers. It’s commonly known as the suspension agreement. It sets a minimum price that covers the majority of fresh tomatoes imported from Mexico. The agreement's intent is to ensure there is no undercutting or suppressing of fresh tomato prices in the United States. Fresh tomatoes from Mexico cannot enter the United States and be sold at less than the established price. Later amendments were clarified and expanded when the agreement was updated in 2008 and in 2013.  

The tomato season is split into two periods each with a different minimal price of tomatoes from Mexico. July 1 to October 22 and October 23 to June 30 are the two periods. Minimum prices are lower during the summer months. Controlled environment tomatoes have different prices than open field and adapted environment tomatoes.

Tomatoes from Florida ship in 25# boxes. Tomatoes from Mexico ship in 20# 2-layer boxes and in 25# boxes. Canada primarily ships tomatoes in 15# single layer flats.

Types of Tomatoes

The perfect tomatoes for picking, straight from our Florida tomato fields.

There are two types of round field tomatoes: mature green and vine ripe. Mature greens are the majority of tomatoes grown in Florida and California. There is minimal production in Mexico. They are harvested at an early stage, while still green. They are mature enough to ripen after harvest when treated with ethylene gas which is the natural ripening agent for a tomato.

Mature greens are firm, have a long shelf life and slice well. They are the dominant tomato in food-service and in the fast food industry.

Vine Ripe Tomatoes are harvested at a slightly riper stage and ripen fully without ethylene treatments. During the winter, most of the vine ripe tomatoes sold in the United States come from Mexico, with Florida a secondary supplier.

Mexico tomatoes in our Nogales, Arizona warehouse.

Roma Tomatoes are usually known as 'plum tomatoes,' and are primarily grown in Mexico, with California and Florida cornering some of this market. They have a more round shape and are usually a different variety than those grown in the states.

The Roma market has grown rapidly since the 1990s, and the increase in sales is partially due to their expanding use in food service menus.

During the summer, southern California, Baja California and the eastern United States are the main suppliers. Most sales of vine ripe tomatoes are to the retail market.

Health Benefits

Tomatoes are eaten in many different ways maybe more than any other fruit or vegetable. It can be raw or cooked and used in sauces, soups, salads, drinks, cooked on food, sliced, diced or whole.

Tomatoes are the fourth most popular fresh-market vegetable behind potatoes, lettuce, and onions. Fresh tomato consumption has been increasing during the past few decades. It’s partially as a result of the popularity of salads, salad bars, and bacon-lettuce-tomato and sandwiches. Also there’s been a push to persuade people to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables.

Tomatoes are rich with all sorts of health benefits. The most well known is its lycopene content. Lycopene is an essential anti-oxidant that helps in the fight against cancer cell formation as well as other kinds of health complications and diseases. It’s particularly helpful in battling prostate cancer. It’s also helpful in fighting high cholesterol and heart disease.

Lycopene is not a naturally produced within the body. Outside sources of lycopene are needed. While other fruits and vegetables do contain lycopene, no other fruit or vegetable has the high concentration that a tomato has. The next closest fruit with significant lycopene would be a red watermelon.

A tomato should never be refrigerated; the core of a tomato should not go below 54.5 degrees. If it does, the inside of the tomato will become mushy and lose its flavor. You should never buy tomatoes from a refrigerated case. Instead, look for plump, heavy tomatoes with smooth skins. They should be free of bruises, blemishes, or cracks. If they are greenhouse tomatoes and still have their leaves, check that they are fresh and green.

Tomatoes of great color and texture give you better flavor and added health benefits.

When choosing your tomatoes, be sure to pick those with the most brilliant shades of red. This indicates the highest amounts of beta-carotene and lycopene. Test how the tomato feels to find out how much give is there when you squeeze it. If the tomato is heavy it fully filled. A good tomato is firm enough to resist pressure, but not so hard that it doesn’t react to your touch. Watch out for soft spots — they’re well on their way to becoming bruises, which reduce the tomatoes shelf life. Tomatoes that are no longer fresh will feel unnaturally soft all over.

Juicier tomatoes are denser, while unripe tomatoes feel a little too light. Finally, test the tomato for its scent. Smell the tomato up by the stem; it should have a strong, sweet, earthy odor. The more fragrant a tomato is, the more flavorful it will be. If a tomato has no smell it likely won’t have much flavor.

Weis-Buy is your best source for tomatoes year-round!