The tomato crop is important to Puglia even though rice production is beginning to take over some of the fields where the toms used to grow.
The reason is the downward spiral of prices despite the best efforts of the Puglian farmer to push prices up with dire warnings of huge shortages.
They are at it again this week with projections following the non summer summer that the crop will be a disaster. They said the same last year at about this time as well.
In fact last year was the biggest crop ever but of course prices fell and farmers are now receiving 40% less than they did 10 years ago. Mind you a few years ago they didn’t have the number of Africans here whom they pay a daily wage of some €5 a day to collect them. There is now a sticky label that farmers that don’t use this almost slave labour can put on their toms but this is Puglia and labels are easily copied.
I did a little picking last year down near Pulsano ready to make passata and it is really hard work. After this experience I decided to buy them in the market !
The big harvest starts normally in September hence the warnings from the farmers now.
The supply of cheap labour however continues unabated. Another 728 Africans landed in Brindisi yesterday
so now both Brindisi and Taranto are receiving them each day.
On a personal note I have managed to go down with shingles which trust me is quite painful. So posts over the next 7 days as I swallow horse tables to try to clear it up will be spasmodic .
Seems there is now a vaccine for it for us oldies but I hadn’t heard about it worse luck.
I remember at my Prep School one morning a at prayers the headmaster was absent and the stand in announced he had shingles and would not be around for a few weeks.
None of us had ever heard of shingles but Cox Major was one of the few day boys there and went home that evening to tell his parents. He returned the next day to explain the disease to us boarders. It is highly dangerous he told us with relish. A band of scabs gradually appears around the patient’s waist and if the band joins together then the patient is toast. The day was spent with groups of us busy predicting when the not popular headmaster would sink away once the spots met each other.
I presume Cox Major rather embellished what his parents told him but am at the mirror hourly just to make sure !