HISTORY OF TOMATO PRODUCTION FOR INDUSTRY AROUND THE WORLD
For fear of making remarks or comments that other speakers on the program may have chosen for their respective discussions, I shall limit my introductory remarks and make them as general as possible. Several od the speakers here this morning are representatives from countries where the production of tomatoes for industry had its beginning and it is from their presentations that we will have the enjoyment of learning the history.
Essentially all the cultivated forms of the tomato belong to the species Lycopersicon esculentum. As with cultivated plants, generally the origins and the early events of domestication are largely obscure.
Dr. Charles Rick of the University of California at Davis, a plant explorer and one of the worlds leading authorities in tomato genetics, stated the following in the Scientific American (August 1978): "One can be reasonably certain about three aspects. First, the cultivated tomato originated in the New World, since all related wild species of tomato are native to the Andrean region now encompassed by parts of Chile, Colombia, Equador, Bolivia and Peru. Second, the tomato had reached a fairly advanced stage of domestication before being taken to Europe. Thirs, the most likely ancestor, the wild cherry tomato (L. esculentum variety cerasiforme), is spontaneous throughout tropical and subtropical America and has spread throughout the Tropics of the Old World".
The time and place of domestication are not known with certainty. Although definite proof is lacking, Mexico is favored as the probable region of domestication. The fruit was eaten by the wild tribes of Mexico who called it "tomati" which is unquestionably the origin of the modern name.
The earliest mention of the plant by European botanists is in the Herbal of Matthiolus (1554), who says it has recently appeared in Italy where it was known as pomid'oro (golden apple). This is where our European speakers take over.