Here is a nicely topical blog post from our accomplished guest blogger, Jay Martini.

From Jay:

When I stopped at the local convenience store early this morning to pick up a cup of coffee and the newspaper, I glanced down when paying and saw a flash of red on the front page. Instinctively, I figured it was blood...or tomatoes.

Unfortunately, it was the latter. Behind a mondo-point headline "Feeling The Squeeze", the Chicago Sun-Times had decided that the tomato shortage story deserved front page tabloid-style status in its major metropolitan newspaper. And given the erosion (I love that word) of the print media industry recently, I was frankly expecting another sensationalist pile-on.

But I was wrong. On page 7 (sorry, tomato story--multiple murders in a nice suburb trumped you on page 3), there was a short but fairly accurate portrayal--"Fresh Tomatoes Are In Short Supply"--of the situation. It included the obligatory terminal market man quote, a la Hotel California--"We haven't seen anything like this since 1989", and the basically factual but inherently faulty fast-food response:

"At Wendy's, which has about 6,200 restaurants in the United States, "We are offering tomatoes to customers by request only," said Denny Lynch, a company spokesman. That's based on limited supply and the "inconsistent" quality."

In my never-ending search for the truth, I visited one of those Wendy's drive-thru establishments the other night and discovered that the request-only sign was taped to the pay window instead of the ordering machine, meaning that unless the ordering party--me--had advance knowledge of the sign further down the lane, I would have to shout the word 'tomato' to the ordering speaker to get some.

So I've deduced that Wendy's, to their credit, are not removing tomatoes from their sandwiches, but are in reality gauging the 'want-to' of the tomato-eating public and managing risk at the same time. Interesting concept, and maybe a vehicle to tweak their buying practices as well. Does it bode well for tomato consumption as a whole? I guess it can't be any worse than grower prices being driven into the stratosphere without any regard for the other shoe dropping when supply returns.

Next mission, should I decide to accept it, will be to order 'everything' and hope I'm not taken literally. Until then.