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Cover for Ten Tomatoes that Changed the World

Ten Tomatoes that Changed the World

A History

William Alexander


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New York Times bestselling author William Alexander takes readers on the surprisingly twisty journey of the beloved tomato in this fascinating and erudite microhistory.

The tomato gets no respect. Never has. Lost in the dustbin of history for centuries, accused of being vile and poisonous, subjected to being picked hard-green and gassed, even used as a projectile, the poor tomato has become the avatar for our disaffection with industrial foods — while becoming the most popular vegetable in America (and, in fact, the world). Each summer, tomato festivals crop up across the country; the Heinz ketchup bottle, instantly recognizable, has earned a spot in the Smithsonian; and now the tomato is redefining the very nature of farming, moving from fields into climate-controlled mega-greenhouses the size of New England villages. 

Supported by meticulous research and told in a lively, accessible voice, Ten Tomatoes That Changed the World seamlessly weaves travel, history, humor, and a little adventure (and misadventure) to follow the tomato's trail through history. A fascinating story complete with heroes, con artists, conquistadors, and—no surprise—the Mafia, this book is a mouth-watering, informative, and entertaining guide to the food that has captured our hearts for generations.

Praise For Ten Tomatoes that Changed the World: A History


“Highly readable… Mr. Alexander presents himself as an apprentice, but the reader quickly discovers he is also a master teacher."—Wall Street Journal on Flirting with French

"Alexander's breathless, witty memoir is a joy to read. It's equal parts fact and fun.” —Boston Globe on 52 Loaves

“[Alexander’s] bright writing highlights a pleasing variety of comical misadventures... Entertaining and educative."—Kirkus Reviews on 52 Loaves

"Serious, irreverent, funny and informative at the same time."—Jacques Pépin on 52 Loaves

“Engaging, well-paced and informative."—New York Times on The $64 Tomato

“[A] disarmingly witty take on horticulture…consistently funny."—Washington Post on The $64 Tomato

“Alexander's slightly poisoned paradise manages to impart an existential lesson on the interconnectedness of nature and the fine line between nurturing and killing.” —Publishers Weekly on The $64 Tomato

Grand Central Publishing, 9781538753323, 320pp.

Publication Date: June 7, 2022

About the Author

William Alexander is a New York Times bestselling author and the writer of three  critically-acclaimed books, including The $64 Tomato: How One Man Nearly Lost His Sanity, Spent a Fortune, and Endured an Existential Crisis  in the Quest for the Perfect Garden. He's been featured on NPR's Morning Edition and Weekend Edition, and has written for the New York Times, the LA Times, Saveur, and others.