At last week's Candidates Gone Wild, Jefferson Smith threw a tomato at Eileen Brady.
During a forum on equity, Smith referred to "the parts of town where you can't buy a $4 tomato"—a not-especially-veiled reference to New Seasons Market, the supermarket chain at the center of Brady's business resume.
Charlie Hales piled on later in the show, accompanying his "talent" of paving a pothole by mentioning that if your car hits a bump, "your $4 tomato could turn into tomato paste."
It felt like both men were testing the air on a bit of class warfare, suggesting that Brady helped start a bougie grocery chain where entitled liberals with more money than sense overpay for organics.
(They were also misquoting a WW story from 2005, Zach Dundas' "Attack of the $3 Tomato," which profiled New Seasons' role as vanguard of the locavore movement.)
But does New Seasons actually sell a $4 tomato?
I'm not a PolitiFact-trained reporter, but I figured I could verify or debunk this claim by visiting a New Seasons. So I went to the one at 6400 N Interstate Ave., where I realized that New Seasons sells tomatoes for many prices. Like most grocers, it prices them by the pound.
So you can buy tomatoes for $1.99 a pound:
They also sell tomatoes for $2.99 a pound:
Here is their basket of vine tomatoes, which go for $3.99 a pound (getting closer!):
Finally, the heirloom tomatoes are a whopping $4.99 a pound:
These are not inexpensive tomatoes. And it's possible, I suppose, to look at a sign that says "$3.99 a lb." next to tomatoes and think, "$4 tomatoes." But if you're actually buying a tomato, you'll weigh it. So I did.
I found one of the larger $3.99-a-pound tomatoes on display—the largest I could find that wasn't a deformed, elephantine tomato—and weighed it.
It weighed less than half a pound.
Which means an average tomato at New Seasons costs about $1.40, and it is difficult to find one that costs more than $2.50.
That's about a dollar less a pound than New Seasons' price. Which, again, is not $4.