Martin D. Breslin, HUDS executive chef for residential dining, said he learned of the recovery of the red fruits’ harvest yesterday and immediately decided to resume serving tomatoes to students.
The shortage of high-quality, reasonably-priced fresh tomatoes led HUDS to remove them from the dining halls earlier this fall.
Though the prices of tomatoes have yet to return to their normal levels, they have tumbled drastically since the height of the shortage when the price per case of tomatoes, normally about $15, neared $70. Current prices are closer to $20.
Breslin said HUDS’ produce vendor confirmed yesterday that it is now able to meet Harvard’s demand in full, providing good quality tomatoes at a more reasonable price.
“Prices are still 25 percent higher than this time last year, but that’s okay as long as we have tomatoes back in the dining halls,” Breslin said.
He added the difference in quality, which he described as “like night and day,” is more important than the difference in cost.
The return of tomatoes was sudden—the higher quality crop was unavailable as of last Thursday, said Breslin.
HUDS was able to obtain the tomatoes quickly, according to Breslin, because it had notified the produce supplier that it wanted the red fruit as soon as it became available.
He said the new crop comes from Florida, where hurricanes—combined with floods in California and torrential rains in Mexico—limited the availability of earlier crops and produced low-quality and exorbitantly expensive tomatoes.
“We’re not forecasting another interruption in the crop,” Breslin said.
Undergraduate Council President Matthew W. Mahan ’05 said HUDS could have handled the shortage better, but he welcomes the return of tomatoes to dining halls.
“I think that their absence was definitely felt on campus...they were gone for a long time,” Mahan said.
“I think [HUDS] could’ve communicated a little bit better to students about how long [the shortage] would be and what they might do to compensate for [the tomatoes’] absence, but I’m very glad that they’re back,” he added.
Signs above salad bars in dining halls informed students that tomatoes would be missing for about two weeks. Tomatoes have been gone now from many dining halls for about a month.
Breslin said he hopes the reinstatement of tomatoes on HUDS menus will placate students who sorely missed the fruits in recent weeks.
“I’m happy they’re back because they are a nice part of our salad bar...a lot of students enjoy them,” he said.