This argument made its way to the Supreme Court, which ultimately decided in 1893 that a tomato was, yes, a vegetable—and Nix had to pay his taxes. Yes, they are. Peas? Can you honestly say the same about apples or bananas? According to Justice Horace Gray, who authored the opinion: You'd think this would've settled the question once and for all. “It was a significant case at the time, important enough to go to the Supreme Court, and every newspaper in the country covered it. SO, if people ever start eating tomatoes more like we eat apples, let’s challenge this law and get the tomato recognized under the law for what it is – a fruit! Cooking is as much an art as it is a science, which tends to give way to more flexibility for how different foods are categorized. Blueberries, raspberries, and oranges are true fruits, and so are many kinds of nut. Squash? But it's strange. The tomato got a lot of great visibility.” And yet, in what may or may not be a simple case of good-natured trolling, Ohio and Tennessee both currently designate the tomato as their state fruits, whereas in New Jersey it's the state vegetable. Botanically a tomato is a fruit. Whether the tomato a fruit or a vegetable, on average, an American eats a hearty 86 pounds of ’em each year — both processed (such as in ketchup/catsup, spaghetti sauce and tomato juice) and fresh. 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). Talk about a disagreement. According to Merriam-Webster, a fruit is "the usually edible reproductive body of a seed plant." Botanically, tomatoes are a fruit. Asparagus: Stems. When he was slapped with the fee on a shipment of tomatoes arriving from the Caribbean, Nix claimed the tomatoes were fruits, not vegetables, and filed a lawsuit against Edward L. Hedden, a collector of the port of New York. Therefore, snap beans, carrots, and spinach are vegetables, while apples are fruit. At least you’re not alone — the tomato is the official “vegetable” of New Jersey and the official “fruit ” of Arkansas. Is tomato a fruit or a vegetable? Avocados, bananas, pumpkins, watermelons and persimmons join tomato in the berry category. Broccoli: Flowering buds and stems (but not seed-bearing fruit). It tastes like a vegetable. Botanically, a fruit is a ripened flower ovary and contains seeds. Peppers? First, it is true that scientifically speaking, tomatoes are fruits. Anything with seeds is a fruit? Botanically speaking, vegetables are any edible part of a plant that doesn’t happen to be a fruit. v. Hedden had to step in to determine whether tomatoes should be taxed as vegetables or cucumbers. In other words, fruit is the part of the plant with seeds in it. For more information visit our, Standard International Trade Classification. Researchers at Harvard have concluded that lycopene, a compound that gives tomatoes their bold red color, may help reduce the risk of some cancers. Farmers, chefs, and nutritionists might all have different answers to … Vegetables encompass all other edible parts of a plant that aren't fruit… Again, the tomato was relegated to the vegetable column, appearing under vegetables/edible plants/roots and tubers. If it contains seeds, it's a fruit. But what about the fruit? Does that mean cucumbers are also fruit? Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Picks for November, What Is in Season: April Fruits and Vegetables, A Simple Guide to Tomato Varieties by Color. Whether you knew this already or not, the fact that tomatoes are fruits, not vegetables, is a source of puzzlement. The juicy flesh of tomatoes protect and contain the seeds of their host plants. https://t.co/oH9rIcJMWs — Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) November 13, 2017 But with its … And yet, as you probably know, (or have perhaps just discovered) tomatoes are technically fruits. It also made a bold public statement about tomatoes. Scientifically, a fruit is defined as a seed-bearing structure that forms from the flower of a plant. “People wanted tomatoes. So a tomato importer named John Nix sued, arguing that he was importing fruit. But it's strange. This means that tomatoes, squash, pumpkins, … By Siamaksabet - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, File:Physalis alkekengi (siamak sabet) (8).jpg They grow in husks and are sweet and/or sour when ripe. Any seed-bearing structure formed in a flowering plant’s ovary is a fruit. The goal of the legislation was to convince farmers to grow tomatoes instead of importing them,” he explains. Hardly anyone just eats a whole tomato by itself. ——————————————————————————————————– To a botanist, a fruit is an entity that develops from the fertilized ovary of a flower. In contrast, a fruit is a plant part which is used chiefly in desserts. It's probably difficult to imagine that the U.S. Supreme Court could issue a ruling in utter defiance of science and reality. Well, botanically-speaking, a fruit is a ripened flower ovary, which contains seeds. Specifically, tomatoes are botanically classified as berries since they are simple fruits having seeds and pulp produced from a single ovary. Surely not. For the 5-a-day recommendations, tomatoes are classified as a vegetable, which is the culinary definition, because that is how most people learn about fruit and vegetables. Nevertheless, that's exactly what happened in 1893, when the court ruled, in Nix v. Hedden, that tomatoes were indeed subject to an import tariff on vegetables, rejecting the plaintiff's contention that since tomatoes were, botanically speaking, a fruit, they were immune from the tariff. What would be really helpful right now is a definition of what a vegetable is. Much of the confusion about whether a tomato is a fruit or vegetable comes from the common culinary applications for tomatoes. In this standard definition, apples, strawberries, grapes and bananas are all fruits, while green beans, tomatoes, squash and potatoes are all vegetables. Fruit. Legally, the tomato is a vegetable It's no life-altering revelation, to be sure. Is that part of the plant? The Manhattan wholesaler and his sons, John W. Nix, George W. Nix, and Frank W. Nix, were frustrated that imported vegetables were subject to a 10 percent tariff upon entering the United States, but no such tariffs were applied to fruits. Scientifically speaking, a tomato is definitely a fruit. It turns out that the definition of a vegetable is, any part of a plant that's edible, including the leaves, stems and roots. Will this dispute never end? Whether you knew this already or not, the fact that tomatoes are fruits, not vegetables, is a source of puzzlement. No way around it – the tomato is a sac and those are seeds bursting out of the crack its skin. They are both! Back in 1887, the U.S. decided to impose tariffs on imported vegetables—but not on imported fruits. No indeed. This also means that foods like squash, pumpkins, cucumbers, peppers, and eggplants are also fruits. The United Nations Standard International Trade Classification continues including tomatoes in the vegetable category to the present day. Also, from a botanists point of view, the tomato on its own has no relevance. Also fruit. Counsel for the plaintiff read into evidence dictionary definitions of the word “tomato” along with those of other fruits and vegetables, including “pea,” “eggplant,” “cucumber,” “cauliflower,” “carrot,” and “bean.” (The Merriam-Webster definition for “fruit” reads, “the usually edible reproductive body of a seed plant; especially : one having a sweet pulp associated with the seed,” and, “a succulent plant part… used chiefly in a dessert or sweet course.”, Based on the evidence presented, the Supreme Court justices found for the defendant, ruling that tomatoes were classified as vegetables. In the grocery store, we generally understand a fruit to be a natural plant product that is sweet, and a vegetable to be a natural plant product that is not sweet. This, of course, makes your tomato a fruit. Common garden "vegetables" that actually count as fruit include cucumbers, squash, peppers, and yes, tomatoes. Sweet corn? Politically and for culinary purposes, a tomato is a vegetable. With this definition, a tomato is a fruit. Tomatoes meet both criteria—but so do plenty of other so-called vegetables, including corn, pumpkins and winter squash, zucchini, peppers and eggplant, to name a few. Justice Horace Gray, one of the justices presiding over the case, delivered the opinion of the court that read, in part, “Botanically speaking, tomatoes are the fruit of a vine, just as are cucumbers, squashes, beans, and peas. This is getting out of hand. Is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable? In common usage, the tomato is a vegetable in that it is usually consumed during the main meal. And yet, as you probably know, (or have perhaps just discovered) tomatoes are technically fruits. Tomatoes, plums, zucchinis, and melons are all edible fruits, but things like maple “helicopters” and floating dandelion puffs are fruits too. Tomatoes are botanically fruits because they form from a flower and contain seeds. But let's accept that a vegetable is any edible part of a plant, including the stems, leaves and roots, but not the part with seeds in it. 3 So the answer whether a tomato is a fruit or a vegetable is not very simple. That depends. It depends on how you are referring to it. What about zucchini? Her recipes range from Grandma’s favorites to the latest food trends. But in the common language of the people, whether sellers or consumers of provisions, 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.”. The Court said in the context of the law taxing tomato as a FOOD, the tomato is a vegetable because that is how people use it as a food and they rejected the botanical definition. A tomato isn't sweet like an apple, but the definition doesn't require it to be in order to qualify as a fruit. The proceedings were brief. However, in common parlance it is a vegetable; hence the United States Supreme Court ruled that a tomato is a vegetable for the purposes of the customs regulations. The fruit versus vegetable controversy has been going on for so long that in 1893, the United States Supreme Court case Nix. Basically, from the perspective of science and biology, a tomato is a plant that is in the family of fruits.The confusion about this stems from the difference in the way science labels fruits and vegetables and the way cooks do when making meals. By this definition, tomatoes are most certainly fruits. A fruit is any part of a plant by which that plant's seeds get out into the world. From the scientific angle, a tomato is a fruit because it contains seeds and fulfils certain criteria that all fruits have to meet. Thi… Although the initial suit was filed to allow Nix to recover back duties paid on previous shipments, it ended up changing how we think about tomatoes. In reality, tomatoes are both fruits and vegetables at the same time. There are two major ways to define fruits and vegetables, scientific and culinary methods of identification. Botanically, a tomato is a fruit. Scientists agree: a botanical ovary – a sac that contains egg cells (seeds) – is classified as a fruit. Botanically, the edible tomato is a fruit. Hardly anyone eats them for dessert; "tomato pie" is not a thing. Because obviously tomatoes are vegetables. Andrew F. Smith, tomato historian and author of The Tomato in America: Early History, Culture and Cookery, believes the court case makes a great story because it pits botany against the law. The court, however, unanimously ruled in favor of the defendant, that the Tariff Act used the ordinary meaning of the words “fruit” and “vegetable” -where a tomato is classified as a vegetable -not the technical botanical meaning. The tomato plant, however, is a fruit-bearing plant which propagates through the germination of fertilized seeds which develop from a fertilized ovary. The tomato perfectly fits the scientific definition of a fruit. A vegetable, meanwhile, is a usually herbaceous plant (such as the cabbage, bean, or potato) grown for an edible part that is usually eaten as part of a meal. Yes! One adult portion of a tomato is a medium sized tomato or 7 cherry tomatoes, remember to eat a wide variety of fruit and vegetables so you can reach your daily 5-a-day. But it certainly seems that the distinction between fruits and vegetables is not as clear-cut as we might like it to be. Get daily tips and expert advice to help you take your cooking skills to the next level. The tomato. Tomatoes are part of the family of the fruit vegetables. The tomato got a lot of great visibility.” The discussion of whether a tomato was a fruit or vegetable resurfaced in 1937 as the League of Nations classified produce to apply tariffs. And a banana is a berry. A vegetable, meanwhile, is a usually herbaceous plant (such as the cabbage, bean, or potato) grown for an edible part that is usually eaten as part of a … Ground cherries are a different species related to tomatoes (it’s the same species as the tomatillo). fcafotodigital / Getty Images. The Supreme Court heard Nix v. Heddenin 1893. Pureed and simmered with onions, garlic and herbs, and ladled over your favorite pasta, it makes perfect sense. The tomato plant is a seed plant—it bears seeds—and the tomato that grows from it is an edible reproductive body; the seeds within the tomato are the means by which the tomato plant reproduces. The explanation lies in the two different ways that "fruit" is defined. And yet, science aside, this all feels unsatisfying. Many of these other parts of the plant are typically referred to as VEGETABLES. How can we tell if something is a fruit or a vegetable? So if you ask a botanist whether the tomato is a fruit or vegetable, they would say the tomato is a fruit. Is it possible that all fruits are also vegetables? It feels like a vegetable. Tomatoes are fruits that are considered vegetables by nutritionists. To try and make some sense of this conundrum, let's look at what makes a fruit a fruit. If you think of the first three fruits that pop into your head, you'll agree that they all have seeds. Yes, a tomato is a fruit. They are in the middle between fruits and vegetables. The seed element is the reason why tomatoes are technically considered a fruit. Therefore, the tomato is both a fruit and a vegetable. Hardly anyone puts tomatoes in fruit salad. Just enter your email address below to join, Our site uses cookies and other technologies so that we, and our partners, can remember you and understand how you use our site. Along with the fruit from a plant or tree, we can often eat the leaves (lettuce,) stems (celery,) roots (carrots,) and flowers (broccoli.) Vegetables, on the other hand, consist of different plant parts, such as stems, leaves or roots. John Nix was so committed to having the tomato classified as a fruit he filed a lawsuit. Nix was forced to continue paying import tariffs on tomatoes. Lettuce: Leaves. Celery: Stalks. Botanically, the tomato is a fruit . All tomatoes are botanically fruit, but are used as vegetables for food purposes. But then the mind becomes uneasy. It's no life-altering revelation, to be sure. Technically, a Tomato Is a Fruit It seems like a vegetable. And clearly, tomatoes have seeds, so they're fruit. Ultimately what we find is that, botany aside, our understanding of what constitutes a fruit and what constitutes a vegetable, both in the kitchen and in the courtroom, comes down to how that item is most commonly used. It also makes cucumbers, squash, green beans and pumpkins all fruits as well. In layman’s terms, a fruit contains seeds on the inside and a vegetable doesn’t. As a base for chilis and stews, soups and sauces, it requires no explanation. In very simple … Potatoes and carrots: Roots. A botanist would tell you that any seed-bearing structure formed from a flower plant’s ovary is a fruit. Again, the tomato was relegated to the vegetable column, appearing under … (Technically even a zucchini is a fruit!) The age-old question actually has an answer—it's both! Is an egg part of a chicken? So, to conclude, a tomato is both a fruit as well as a vegetable. It's "the usually edible reproductive body of a seed plant," says Merriam-Webster. 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