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Convenience shoulders tomato taste aside

Breeding for consistent color in unripe fruit may have diminished flavor

It looks like 70 years of breeding for better color in unripe fruit has inadvertently helped create the wet-paper towel flavor of the modern tomato.

Growers care about the green of unripe tomatoes, explains biochemist Ann L. Thomas Powell of the University of California, Davis. Ripening globes that are each uniformly green let growers easily judge when a field will be ready for harvest. Over decades breeders have selected for this uniform green coloring instead of for tomatoes that turn a deeper shade around the stem end, Powell says.

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