You say Tomāto, I say tomäto. Tomāto Tomäto is a Nebraska farmer’s market opened year-round, and it’s a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program in Omaha.
According to the Tomāto Tomäto website, a CSA is a way for consumers to purchase a membership and in return receive a box full of seasonal produce each week through out the harvest season. The store’s mission is to connect consumers with local producers, which serves to increase production and consumption of local foods.
Michael Kult has worked at the store for three years, and purchased the business last year. Right now he is remodeling the store and partnering with more local farmers and producers.
“In our consumer driven economy we have lots of choices as to where and what we purchase. We have created a safe place for people to shop where every dollar spent remains in our local economy,” Kult said.
According to Medical Daily 59 percent of college students have food insecurities due to high food costs, limited income and poor food support systems.
College students need an affordable way to eat a nutritious meal. At the University of Nebraska at Omaha students now have that option.
Tomāto Tomäto has partnered with UNO to bring fresh produce, bread, eggs and more to all students, faculty and staff at UNO. There are three CSA options available on the Tomāto Tomäto website starting at just 12 dollars a week. Packages will be shipped weekly to Dodge and Pacific campuses beginning May 16 and ending August 26.
“We are also able to aid several metro area food pantries in aggregation of fruits and vegetables,” Kult said. “[we] support SNAP recipients with 50 percent of our CSA shares, we involve cooking and nutritional advice to at risk members and provide food to kids in need over the summer, and weekends.”
Kult’s store not only boosts the Nebraska economy by reinvesting the money locally, but it gets healthy foods into the mouths of the hungry.
Helen Burns is a Tomāto Tomäto employee, and she has worked at the store for nine months. Burns said Tomāto Tomäto is different from chain grocery stores because their products are locally produced, organic and efficient.
According to the American Independent Business Alliance (AIBA) eating and shopping from local businesses builds community, increases the wealth of residents, creates jobs and enhances the health of residents.
Kult said his business does all the legwork to make sure there are no hormones or fillers in his products. He said he wants to increase access to all of the great products being produced in the region and at the same time provide a consistent outlet for his farmers and producers. Kult’s end goal is to live in a community where organic labels are no longer seen as something special or indulgent, but as something normal.
“It just makes sense to eat things grown in our area rather than those shipped from half way around the world,” Kult said.
The store has been in a remodeling stage since Kult bought the business. The store has expanded its product line and Kult decided to celebrate by hosting a grand reopening on Saturday, April 16. Many of the participating farmers and vendors will be coming to the store to let locals sample foods and learn about the growers.
Starting April 18, Tomāto Tomäto will be open Monday through Saturday year-round.