From 10.45 on Wednesday morning 22,000 people lined the streets of Buñol, Valencia province, to throw around 170,000 kilos of tomatoes in celebration of the 2015 Tomatina.
The world-famous tomato-throwing festival is 70 years old this year and to celebrate organizers have distributed 29,000 more kilos of fruit than in 2014.
All the ammunition comes from Cetrimed, a fruit and vegetable producer based in La Llosa, in neighboring Castellón province, which has been supplying the festival for the past decade.
But some people on the social networks on Wednesday were wondering what kind of waste the festival represents.
En vez de tirarse comida en la tomatina podrían donarla a caritas o algo no se— merx from the 1975 (@sparkswiftx) August 26, 2015
“Instead of throwing food in the Tomatina they could give it to charity or something.”
“Only in Spain are we capable of ‘throwing away’ thousands of kilos of food as they do at Buñol’s Tomatina.”
So what’s the truth? “We keep the tomatoes that do not make national market requirements in a refrigeration chamber for two weeks,” explains Cetrimed chief Javier Mechó.
The standards he is referring to have to do with size and ripeness, meaning, as he puts it, they have to be “fat and hard.” Those that are either too small or too soft are sent to the Tomatina in six trucks.
“There’s the odd rotten one, as is natural, but the majority arrive in adequate condition for the festival,” he says. Which is to say, sufficiently soft so that they don’t do any damage when thrown.
Mechó explains that thanks to an agreement reached between Cetrimed and Buñol town hall, all the excess tomatoes that would otherwise have been thrown away are now sent to the festival. “What’s more, it has the benefit of giving more work to the company,” Mechó adds.
People from 96 different countries took part in this year’s festivities, most of them from Spain, but according to available data, 14% of participants were from the UK, 10% were Indian, 8% were from Japan, 7% were American and 6% were from Australia.
The festival, which began in 1945 when a fight between two youngsters ended in a huge battle in the town’s main square, is now so famous around the world that on Wednesday search engine Google created one of its famous Google Doodle temporary logos in honor of it.