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FutureStarrIs Tomato a Fruit or Vegetable
George Washington is often quoted as saying, “I cannot tell a lie”. Like George, we can’t either. This can’t be a lie: we’re news organizations, so we try to tell the truth to our audience, but life is often difficult.
Now, nutritionally, the term “fruit” is used to describe sweet and fleshy botanical fruits, and “vegetable” is used to indicate a wide variety of plant parts that are not so high in fructose. In many cultures, vegetables tend to be served as part of the main dish or side, whereas sweet fruits are typically snacks or desserts. Thus, roots, tubers, stems, flower buds, leaves, and certain botanical fruits, including green beans, pumpkins, and of course tomatoes, are all considered vegetables by nutritionists. There is no hard-and-fast rule that clearly designates a botanical fruit as a vegetable, but, given that tomatoes are generally not used in desserts and are closely related to other fruit-vegetables (e.g., eggplants and peppers), it is not too counterintuitive for tomatoes to be classified as vegetables.
To summarise, tomatoes are usually prepared in savoury dishes despite botanically being a fruit, which is why they are often described as a vegetable from a culinary perspective. Who cares, though, when tomatoes taste as good as they do! We can all agree tomatoes are easy snacks, delicious in stews and are a healthy option in our diets, providing us with fibre, vitamins and minerals. (Source: www.eufic.org)
The confusion about 'fruit' and 'vegetable' arises because of the differences in usage between scientists and cooks. Scientifically speaking, a tomato is definitely a fruit. True fruits are developed from the ovary in the base of the flower, and contain the seeds of the plant (though cultivated forms may be seedless). Blueberries, raspberries, and oranges are true fruits, and so are many kinds of nut. Some plants have a soft part which supports the seeds and is also called a 'fruit', though it is not developed from the ovary: the strawberry is an example.
As far as cooking is concerned, some things which are strictly fruits, such as tomatoes or bean pods, may be called 'vegetables' because they are used in savoury rather than sweet cooking. The term 'vegetable' is more generally used of other edible parts of plants, such as cabbage leaves, celery stalks, and potato tubers, which are not strictly the fruit of the plant from which they come. Occasionally the term 'fruit' may be used to refer to a part of a plant which is not a fruit, but which is used in sweet cooking: rhubarb, for example. (Source: www.lexico.com)