Have you wondered why those gorgeous grocery store tomatoes have no flavor? Yes, they're usually picked green and often refrigerated which destroys the flavor and texture. However, researchers have recently discovered that there is a genetic reason for the loss of flavor in tomatoes.
The culprit is a chance gene mutation which turned off the gene location responsible for flavor. This mutation has been deliberatly bred into almost all tomatoes because it conferred an advantage: a uniform luscious scarlet color when ripe.
Breeders stumbled upon this mutation about seventy years ago and saw commercial potential. Consumers love the scarlet, red color of the 'new' uniformly ripened tomato and producers of tomato sauce and ketchup also benefited. Growers now could harvest the fruit all at once. The uniform ripening gene made it easier to tell when the tomatoes were ripe.
Researchers have found that the very gene that was 'turned-off' by the mutation is responsible for the production of sugars in the tomato giving it it's aroma and taste. With this discovery, scientists are working to try to produce the perfect tomato with the uniform red color and wonderful tomato flavor we used to associate with those 'just picked' from the garden.
Note: Heirloom tomatoes and some wild species do not have the gene mutation.
FYI: Tomatoes always taste best when vine ripened. If you're having trouble with critters stealing you're ripe tomatoes, bag them. Place a sandwich size ziploc bag over the tomato, seal it from both ends leaving about 1/4" opening at the stem. Cut a slit in one bottom corner to allow for drainage and ventilation (more slits if it's hot) and pick when ripe.