Get Caught Up With Ketchup: The (Not So) Surprising Source of This Foodie Favorite
May 10, 2017

Get Caught Up With Ketchup: The (Not So) Surprising Source of This Foodie Favorite

By Amy Fuentes,
Fresno Food Expo Manager

You Say Tomay-toe, and I say, “Yup, From Our Backyard!
Ketchup, like so many things in our culture that are omnipresent, is easy to just accept as being everywhere. Who knows where it actually comes from? We do! A look at the facts reveals why California is the true heir to the ketchup crown and a massive contributor to commerce and health. Read on as we reveal why the Golden State is the wellspring for this super-popular sauce.

A Dash of Background
The roots of ketchup stretch back to the sixth century, where it was a  Chinese concoction derived from sea life. Fast forward to America in 1812 and we meet James Mease, a horticulturalist from Philadelphia who created the first ketchup recipe involving tomatoes. It went through various permutations before becoming a staple on dining tables and supermarket shelves.

With a host of different brands, fan clubs, and a 100,000-gallon bottle measuring 70 feet high in Collinsville, Illinois, it's safe to say ketchup has made it into the big leagues. Last year, California produced over 12 million tons of tomatoes that over 300 million of us added to our food in the form of ketchup.

Ketchup and a Wealth of Health
Californian crops are certainly doing their share in keeping us healthy. Beyond the merely tasty, one tomato a day provides a third of your RDA of Vitamin C, plus fiber, iron and B vitamins to name but a few. Perhaps most importantly, the lycopene that gives tomatoes their vibrant color is also a powerful antioxidant linked to fighting cancer. Better still, tomatoes in the form of ketchup actually see the power of their lycopene increased. As if that wasn't enough, lycopene contributes to battling obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

...and if you're not a fan of genetically modified foods, you'll be pleased to hear that there are no GMO tomatoes being grown in America.

Some Surprising Savory Stats
With U.S. ketchup production estimated at 650 million bottles a year, all that good stuff has to come from somewhere! Aside from growing three times more peaches than Georgia, the San Joaquin valley is the source from which ketchup really flows. Let's look at the numbers.

It's a staggering fact that California tomatoes not only make up over 90% of America's pressed tomatoes, but they also account for almost half of the total pressed tomato tonnage in the world. 59% of Californian tomato crops are in the richly abundant San Joaquin Valley. The Valley itself accounts for 65% of California's total agricultural value (the majority of tomatoes used to make ketchup and pasta sauce are grown and processed in the area), and the output of its eight counties has a projected economic impact of over $137 billion.

Your Ketchup Takeaway
Now you can say you're caught up with catsup (it's the same thing, honest).

If you're like us and appreciate all the facts and fun that go into food, join in and celebrate with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. You'll find the latest news, the most interesting articles and engaging human stories that flow from the bountiful Central California region and onto your doorstep.

Photos courtesy of: Dennis Klein and Pawel Rekas

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