Fruit vs Veggy Debate: The Tomato Conundrum

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In summary, the conversation discusses the ongoing debate about whether certain foods should be classified as fruits or vegetables. While there is a scientific definition that states that fruits bear seeds and vegetables do not, there is also a common definition that considers fruits to be sweet and vegetables to be savory. The conversation also touches on the historical and cultural factors that have influenced the classification of certain foods, such as tomatoes being considered a fruit in some countries and a vegetable in others. Ultimately, the conversation concludes that there is no clear answer and that the classification of a food as a fruit or vegetable can vary depending on context and perspective.
  • #1
Most of us wonder this question for a good long time before receiving an answer:

How do you know if something is a fruit or a veggy?

This has caused many an argument amonst my family members and I who are still disputin whether a tomato is a fruit or veggy.

I say fruit. :biggrin: They say veggy. :devil:
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  • #2
It's a fruit, because it carries seeds.

- Warren
  • #3
I think this is one of those questions where there is a scientific definition (fruits bear seeds; vegetables do not) and a different common definition (fruits are sweet; veggies are not). Then you have the added confusion that any plant can be termed "vegetable matter." So I'm not sure you'll ever get anyone to agree, one way or the other.
  • #4
Avocado is a fruit so are olives o:) many people wouldn't think so.
  • #5
According to that definition also a cucumber is fruit, but what about kernel corn or potatoes?
(potatoes are a vegetable and kernel corn is fruit :confused:)
  • #6
It's technically a fruit as everybody has said. American agriculturalists classified it as a vegetable sometime in the twenties, I believe, as part of some political dealings.

I wonder if that's why Ronald Reagan called ketchup a vegetable.
  • #7
The generally accepted botanical definition of a fruit is the mature ovary of a plant including its seeds and other accessories. So this encompasses things like berries, seeds, nuts, corn, tomatoes... Many of these would not be considered culinary fruits, ie nuts, corn, or used for human consumption at all, ie maple tree samaras.
  • #8
As several here have alluded, there is a botanical definition of a fruit. And I would call a culinary (table use) definition. One idea of a vegetable is comparing it with animal or mineral. This is a broader meaning and includes all plants (and fungi too). Similarly we have the culinary concept of vegetable. Tomato Lycopersicon esculentum L. is a great example (also see footnote).. Botanically they are a fruit, but for culinary use, a vegetable.

The concept that fruits are sweet and veggies are not, is a weak definition. Lemons and grapefruits are fruits, yet they tend to be rather tart. :tongue2: Rhubarb and cranberry are two more tart fruits that come to mind. On the other side for veggies, if you've ever sauteed carrot, cabbage or onion, they taste sweet. And how about sweet potatoes?

So vegetables can be botanical fruits (tomato, olive, avocado, squash), flowers (broccoli, cauliflower), leaves (lettuce, spinach, cabbage), petioles (celery), pods (snap beans, sweet peas), seeds (dry beans, sweet corn), modified stems (white potato, kohlrabi), and roots (carrots, beets, turnip). Perhaps you can think of a few more categories. :smile:

Foot note: When tomato was introduced to Europe from Central and So America, it was embraced by Mediterranean and southern European countries as a table vegetable and in cooking, whereas when introduced to Northern Europe, it was treated as an ornamental berry. Perhaps this was because of the pungent odour of its foliage and being associated with poisonous members of its nightshade family, notably the deadly nightshade Solanum dulcamera from which Bellidonna (hallucinogen) is obtained. Folklore in Germany expounded that tomatoes were used by witches. Witches flying on broomsticks were a means to summons wolves and the latin genus Lycopersicon means wolf-apple. The stem of tomato is very high in a toxic alkaloid, as are potatoes that have turned green from sitting in the light. Ironically, tomato was introduced into North America from Europe not from its southern neighbors. biggrin:
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  • #9
infidel said:
scientific definition (fruits bear seeds; vegetables do not)

infidel said:
(fruits are sweet; veggies are not)


What is the difference between a fruit and a vegetable?

The main difference between a fruit and a vegetable is the part of the plant that they come from. Fruits come from the flower of a plant and contain seeds, while vegetables come from the leaves, stems, or roots of a plant and do not contain seeds.

Is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable?

A tomato is technically a fruit, as it comes from the flower of a tomato plant and contains seeds. However, it is often classified as a vegetable due to its savory taste and culinary uses.

What are the health benefits of tomatoes?

Tomatoes are a good source of vitamins C and K, potassium, and folate. They also contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and cancer.

Why do some people consider tomatoes a vegetable?

In the late 1800s, the United States imposed a tariff on imported vegetables, but not fruits. To avoid this tariff, tomato importers argued that tomatoes should be classified as fruits, as they come from a plant's flower. However, the Supreme Court ruled that tomatoes should be classified as vegetables for trade purposes, leading to their common classification as a vegetable.

Can tomatoes be classified as both a fruit and a vegetable?

Yes, tomatoes can be classified as both a fruit and a vegetable depending on the context. Botanically, they are a fruit, but culinarily, they are often considered a vegetable.

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