NAPLES — Florida tomato growers will take their show on the road this fall to Miami and other key markets along the East Coast, in an effort to restore public confidence eroded by this summer's salmonella outbreak.
At the annual meeting of the Florida Tomato Committee on Thursday, leaders unveiled a guerrilla marketing campaign dubbed the ''Florida Tomato Culinary Art Tour.'' Between Nov. 14 and Dec. 19, the tour will visit 15 cities, from Portland, Maine, to Miami, showcasing the beauty and taste of Florida-grown tomatoes. The event will be part art exhibit, celebrity chef-recipe tasting and festival, with stops at supermarkets, farmers markets, shopping malls and other high-traffic areas.
The goal is to reach out directly to consumers and build grass-roots support for a product that saw consumer demand decline as Florida tomatoes were scrutinized as a potential cause of the largest salmonella outbreak in the last decade. Ultimately, laboratory tests found links to Mexican peppers, but federal officials have refused to exonerate tomatoes from Florida or anywhere else.
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