Is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable?
Well, botanically-speaking, a fruit is a ripened flower ovary, which contains seeds. The seed element is the reason why tomatoes are technically considered a fruit. Courgettes, cucumbers, pumpkins and peppers are technically fruits and not vegetables for this reason too. Crazy, right?
According to Merriam-Webster, a fruit is “the usually edible reproductive body of a seed plant.” In a blog post, the dictionary explained it in simpler terms: “Anything that grows on a plant and is the means by which that plant gets its seeds out into the world is a fruit.”
Whereas, technically, a vegetable is a part of a plant or the whole plant itself.
Scientifically, this is how we determine what a fruit or vegetable is, but of course in the culinary world, we think of fruits as sweet and vegetables as savoury.
Still with us?
Well, if you’re confused, you’re in good company, because even the Supreme Court in America got involved in the debate back in 1893 when they were trying to decide if tomatoes should be taxed as fruit or vegetables under the Tariff Act of 1883, because, back then, only veggies were taxed.
Justice Horace Gray summed up the argument by saying: "Botanically speaking, tomatoes are the fruit of a vine, just as are cucumbers, squashes, beans, and peas.
“But in the common language of the people … all these are vegetables which are grown in kitchen gardens, and which, whether eaten cooked or raw, are, like potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, beets, cauliflower, cabbage, celery, and lettuce, usually served at dinner in, with, or after the soup, fish, or meats which constitute the principal part of the repast, and not, like fruits generally, as dessert.”
If you’re still not sure what the hell is going on, just remember this quote from journalist Miles Kington and get on with the rest of your day…
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