Tomato: Fruit or Vegetable? | The Thinking Blog ~ Knowledge Grows When Shared
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07 August 2008

Tomato: Fruit or Vegetable?

tomatoBotanically, a tomato is the ovary, together with its seeds, of a flowering plant: therefore it is a fruit or, more precisely, a berry. However, the tomato is not as sweet as those foodstuffs usually called fruits and, from a culinary standpoint, it is typically served as part of a salad or main course of a meal, as are vegetables, rather than at dessert in the case of most fruits. As noted above, the term "vegetable" has no botanical meaning and is purely a culinary term.

disputeThis argument has had legal implications in the United States. In 1887, U.S. tariff laws that imposed a duty on vegetables but not on fruits caused the tomato's status to become a matter of legal importance. The U.S. Supreme Court settled the controversy in 1893 by declaring that the tomato is a vegetable, based on the popular definition that classifies vegetables by use, that they are generally served with dinner and not dessert (Nix v. Hedden (149 U.S. 304)). The holding of the case applies only to the interpretation of the Tariff Act of March 3, 1883, and the court did not purport to reclassify the tomato for botanical or other purposes other than paying a tax under a tarriff act.

Due to the scientific definition of a fruit, the tomato remains a fruit when not dealing with US tariffs. Nor is it the only culinary vegetable that is a botanical fruit: eggplants, cucumbers, and squashes of all kinds (such as zucchini and pumpkins) share the same ambiguity. [source]

Editor's Note: Tomato is a great source of Vitamin C with 100 grams (3.5 oz) containing 13mg, serving 22% of daily intake recommendation for adults. Speaking of personal experience, when I get the common cold I eat two mid-sized tomatos -- instantly my nose stops running and I get well (miracoulously) the next day. Highly recommended fruit vegetable whatever it is!

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