In Breaking the Vicious Cycle, canned tomato paste is presented as ‘illegal’. However, based on the instructions of Drs Haas, Elaine Gottschall supported the use of canned tomato juice, so long as the only ingredients were ‘tomatoes’ and ‘salt’. She suggested people simmer this down into a paste (which does indeed work well).
GAPS recommends severely limiting the use of canned goods, but allows cans that include only ‘tomatoes’ and ‘salt’. We assume this means whole tomatoes, paste, juice, etc.
For many, the above guidelines raise several questions:
1. Why would Elaine allow juice made of ‘tomatoes, salt’ but not paste made of ‘tomatoes, salt’.
A: My understanding is that in this matter, Elaine was deferring to instructions presented to her by Drs Haas. Drs Haas allowed the juice but no other canned tomato item. Elaine suggested that perhaps the canning of other tomato products involved different processes.
2. Is it possible that in the days of Drs Haas, pure tomato products (canned) did not exist? Is it possible that, today, paste from a healthy, organic company is truly pure?
A: Sure, that’s possible. Please see the answers to the subsequent questions, below.
3. Since food processors are allowed to include ingredients without listing them, don’t we, when purchasing any packaged item, run the risk of exposure to illegals?
A: Yes. With any packaged good, including tomato juice, this is true.
4. If I find a tomato product that I trust, can I use it?
A: This is up to you. If you have contacted the company and received official word (ie. on letterhead) that the product has involved no other ingredients at any point, including in its processing, you might choose to use it. If you do so, be sure to test the product properly, ie. on its own, away from other new items. Also, do be aware that a company can change its processing approaches at any time. Thus, a company’s word from two months ago may not apply to the can you purchase today.
4. If I want to be very careful, what is a good approach until I can preserve my own?
A: I never thought it was possible to live without heaps of cooked tomato. ‘Heaps of cooked tomato’ is a staple of the Standard American Diet and paste is very sweet.
Recently, though, I’ve experienced the same shift with tomato as I did earlier with sweetener. That is, pre-SCD I gorged on junk food, then I moved to SCD’s fruit and honey, then did GAPS’ intro and now use 1/8th to 1/3th of the honey called for in a recipe just once a week. In other words, as far as sweetener goes, I was gradually using less and less such that now I am very sensitized to it, and a little now goes a long way.
For me, this is now true with tomato, too. I started out on SCD using canned tomato juice (with all of the above-listed questions swirling in the back of my mind). Eventually, I moved to using approximately 80mls of paste (for two people) once a week. Ultimately, I eliminated all canned tomato product and began putting a single fresh tomato into a big dish, such as Shepherd’s Pie. Just as with the honey, I have slowly sensitized myself to the flavour of tomato, such that now I can really taste it, but as an enhancer rather than as the central ingredient. As with sweetener, a little now goes a long way.
For more on sensitization -a very helpful technique within GAPS- click here.