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Get Your Garden in Gear for The Tomato Challenge

Raley’s and NatureSweet Seek The Best Homegrown Tomato In Sacramento

By Amy Johnston | Friday August 3, 2007

WEST SACRAMENTO, CA – Is your vegetable garden the envy of your neighbors on the block? If you are the reigning green thumb, then now is the time to dust off your watering can and don those worn-out garden gloves – you could win some big bucks!

Raley’s and NatureSweet are bringing the Homegrown Tomato Challenge to your neighborhood, as they search for the best backyard gardener in the greater Sacramento area this summer. After a summer of beaming Sacramento sun, contestants are invited to bring their prized tomatoes fresh-off-the-vine to the Raley’s supermarket at 25025 Blue Ravine Rd. in Folsom on Saturday, August 25 between 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. for judging with winners announced at noon.

All entrants are asked to bring either three large tomatoes or six small tomatoes for our judges to sample. This year, there are more chances to win, with grand prizes awarding $2,500 for the best small tomato and $2,500 for the best large tomato. Four lucky runners-up will each receive $250 in prizes. There are no restrictions on the variety or method of growing tomatoes, except that all entries must be homegrown by the entrant, and only one entry per category per household. There is no fee to enter, just stop by the Folsom Raley’s on Saturday, August 25 to enter your best tomatoes! Up to 10 finalists will be chosen based on overall appearance/color tests and Brix testing. Brix tests determine sweetness – the higher the Brix number, the better the taste.

The top tomatoes will then be taste-tested by a panel of local celebrity judges and food experts, including Pat Rubin, Home & Garden Writer, The Sacramento Bee; Gwen Schoen, Food Writer, The Sacramento Bee; Julie Watts, Weather Plus Meteorologist, KCRA 3; Daren Cliff, Editor, Edible Sacramento; Patty Mastracco, Raley’s Recipe Developer and Food Stylist; and Michael Schutt, Raley’s Produce Buyer.
In addition to the tomato-judging event, Raley’s will host tomato recipe tasting and cooking demonstrations with Patty Mastracco, the creative mind behind many of the delicious recipes found in Raley’s seasonal magazine, Something Extra. Don’t forget to bring the kids too, as there will be plenty of family-friendly activities. The Health Education Council will be onsite with interactive activities for children highlighting the fun of nutrition. Families can pose for photos and exchange high-fives with Dinger, the Sacramento River Cats Mascot as they enjoy live music courtesy of DJ and radio personality Ron West. Also, the first 100 entrants will receive a special gift from NatureSweet. After the day’s big event, all tomato entries will be donated to the Twin Lakes Food Bank.

If gardening isn’t your thing, there’s still a chance for you to win a great cash prize – NatureSweet is hosting a sweepstakes and will award one lucky winner with $5,000 in a nationwide drawing! Entry forms are available in the Produce Department at any Raley’s, Bel Air or Nob Hill Foods store starting August 1. Entries are accepted through September 30, 2007.

NatureSweet Tomatoes is America’s year-round tomato garden, delivering quality tomatoes with a homegrown taste no matter what the season. NatureSweet Tomatoes are vine-ripened to enhance sweetness and flavor, providing an appetizing addition to salads and entrees as well as a delicious, healthy snack option. For more information, call toll-free 1-800-315-8209 or log on to NatureSweet’s website at

Desert Glory, LTD, based in San Antonio, Texas is the leading grower of premium small tomatoes in North America under the NatureSweet brand. Distributed throughout the U.S, at major grocers, club stores and foodservice operators, NatureSweet tomatoes deliver the best tasting tomatoes with year-round availability. As the number one brand of vine-ripened cherry tomatoes in the U.S., NatureSweet’s growing operations comprise nearly 1,000 acres under greenhouse and proudly employs nearly 5,000 associates.

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