Of course, it is not without dangers. Perhaps because of its resemblance to deadly nightshade, colonial Americans thought it was poisonous and used it only as decoration. While that was disproven (for the fruit; all other parts of the plant are toxic), it now turns out that because of their acidity, canned tomatoes are particularly adept at leaching bisphenol-A from the lining of the cans. BPA has been linked to ailments ranging from reproductive problems to heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Conventionally grown, they also pose a danger to farmworkers: fields are sprayed with more than 100 different herbicides and pesticides - and fieldworkers have been found in conditions of slavery in Florida.
If one can navigate these dangerous waters, the tomato is indispensible for certain types of cuisine, e.g. mine - tending towards the one-pot meal where things can be dumped in and simmered or baked. I came across a woman the other day who didn't know what people would use a lot of canned tomatoes for in cooking. She only used them for chili or spaghetti sauce, which they ate maybe once a month.
In addition to chili, here's what I use them for:
- lasagna and other pastas
- zucchini parmesan
- lamb and chickpea stew (with or without lamb)
- soup bases - lentil or peanut or hamburger or Manhattan clam chowder
- shirred eggs
- cabbage rolls
- ...and yes, pizza sauce