Tomatoes: Fruit or Vegetable?

TomatoesTomatoes: they’re juicy, but not sweet.  They have seeds like most other fruits, but they would feel out of place in a parfait.  The debate over whether this popular plant food is a fruit or vegetable is one that has gone on for decades.  So, once and for all, just what exactly is a tomato?

As it turns out, this question has been given serious attention by many brilliant minds, and the answer is interesting.

There are two definitions in use for a fruit.  One is the Botanical definition and the other is the Culinary definition.  The botanical definition classifies fruits as the reproductive organ of a plant.  That is, the part of the plant that is responsible for creating more plants.  In other words, if it’s a seed or it has seeds, it would be a fruit, according to the botanical definition.

Thus, a tomato is a fruit.

Of course, this raises a few eyebrows.  For example, a pumpkin has seeds.  So do zucchinis and cucumbers.  But certainly we don’t think of them as fruits.

The culinary definition is the one more often used in the common parlance, and it defines a fruit as the “fleshy seed-associated structures of a plant that are sweet and edible”.  By this definition,

Thus, as tomatoes are not sweet, it is not a fruit.

So which is it?!?

Well, you may be interested to know that in 1893, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in the Nix v. Hedden case that the tomato should be classified under customs regulations as a vegetable and not a fruit.

So there you have it! According to the united states government tomatoes are vegetables! But whatever they are, I think we can all agree that tomatoes are delicious.

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