Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Movie Night VII: Tomatoes of the Future!

As much as we think of the Santa Clara Valley as Prune Central USA, the local canneries of the early 20th century were doing a huge business in canning tomatoes. Del Monte, Contadina, Greco, Hunt's, Mission Valley, Pyle, Richmond Chase, San Jose Canning Co., Sun Garden - all were packing tomatoes at one point or another. Even as late as the 1970's and 1980's, you'll still hear stories about the smell of tomatoes coming out of Del Monte Plant #3 on San Carlos St.

The smell of tomatoes may not be wafting over San Jose any more, but at least we can get an idea of the tomato canning process thanks to YouTube. DiNapoli shows the work needed to harvest and can their tomatoes in Los Banos in this cool video. Although there's a huge amount of automation, I'll bet that many of the same jobs and noise would have been familiar to any local sixty years ago.

I'm also amazed they're willing to keep the rotary cookers outside. The FMC brochures always made those look like precision machinery.

Note to self: leave some open cans of tomatoes near the Del Monte plant for an appropriate experience.

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