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Q. Why did the tomato blush?

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A. Because he saw the salad dressing.


Jessica 1 

All jokes aside… why are tomatoes red?

Real answer: TLC graduate Janet Mace, and science, will tell you tomatoes are red, they ‘blush’, because of a pigment group called lycopene. This red carotenoid occurs during the breakdown of chlorophyll – the synthesis process. Red becomes the dominant colour of a tomato, as it ripens from green, to yellow, and eventually red.

But, in fact, not all New Zealand tomatoes are red in colour when ripe.

The heritage tomato, Olga’s Round Golden Chicken Egg variety grown right here in New Zealand, is actually a beautiful shade of orange!

The Olga tomato variety, unlike regular red tomatoes, does not have to be cooked in order to activate its yummy goodness and unlock those great tomato health benefits for better absorption by the human body.

So orange is definitely the colour to look for these days when buying your tomatoes at the supermarket or vege market.

High concentrations of tetra-cis lycopene are found in the the Olga Round Golden Chicken Egg tomato and New Zealand researchers and growers wanted the public to know more about them.


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Mark Christensen and TLC graduate Janet Mace featured in the Wanganui Midweek newspaper (photo by Paul Brook).


To help get word out about the benefits of orange tomatoes, Mark Christensen, a researcher from The Heritage Food Crops Research Trust collaborated with talented TLC illustrator and distance delivery graduate, Janet Mace.

The result? A beautifully illustrated children’s storybook, ‘Jessica and the Golden Orb’.


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Illustrated and written by Janet (writing as Janet Bradbury), the story is of a young girl Jessica, who, not allowed to have a pet, gets a heritage tomato plant instead.

The story shows how to plant an Olga Round Golden Chicken Egg heritage tomato plant and how to look after it. The first print run of the book was free thanks to sponsorship by the Powerco Wanganui Trust and the Wanganui Community Foundation, and came with a small packet of seeds enclosed in the 2,250 storybooks.

Here's a sneak peak at some of Janet's illustration work inside...

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Jessica 7 

Media: Watercolour paints and watercolour pencil, with pen outline.

Janet is now in the process of producing a sequel to ‘Jessica and the Golden Orb’. The story has been written and she is currently designing and drawing her first round of draft illustrations. This book will be about seed-saving and should be available around October of this year.

Want to make a difference in the world through art making like Janet? Call The Learning Connexion School of Art & Creativity on 0800 278 769, or request a prospectus to find out more.



  • Cathy de Seton
    14/03/2016 4:21am (8 years ago)

    That's fabulous - I hope we all can have such successes :-)