US (CA): Central Valley processors making drinking water from tomatoes

Truckloads of tomatoes lined up for processing in California's San Joaquin Valley at Ingomar Packing. The Merced County facility sees more than a million tons each season. 

Usually, they're turned into products like tomato paste for use in ketchup and sauces. But this year, the processor is tapping into something else hidden inside: fresh drinking water. A raw tomato is about 95 percent water, and Ingomar is tapping into new technology to harvest and purify it.

"We harvest the water that naturally occurs in fruits and vegetables," explains Terry Paule, CEO of Botanical Water Technologies. The process was first invented in Australia nearly a decade ago.

"What we do is we cleverly catch that evaporative condensate, and then we run it through our purification process," said Paule.

Now he's trying to introduce that process to the rest of the world. Ingomar is the first company in the test it out. Water that used to be disposed of is now cleaned and stored in tanks to be sent on to local areas in need.      

"What we're doing here today is a very small drop in the bucket, but for us, it's a step forward and represents forward-thinking," said Greg Pruett, Ingomar Sales & Energy Manager.

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