I don’t hate many things. I mean, sure, like all of us, I can ﬁnd a few things that really grind my gears. ISIS, bad drivers, Donald Trump, people who purposely act dumb, etc, Oh, and one more thing: tomatoes. If I go out to eat and I get a plump, raw tomato, I cannot promise that it won’t be thrown at someone. I ﬁnd their taste to be repulsive and I can’t stand the juice that they exude.
Ketchup, tomato sauce, pizza? They’re all fantastic. (Unless we’re putting ketchup on weird stuff on which it does not belong, i.e.: hotdogs.) But their mother, the tomato, is not on the good list. That being said, a tomato, sadly, is a fruit. Solanum lycopersicum. That’s honestly a terrible name, probably to mirror their terrible taste. Originally native to western South America and Central America, Mexican farmers have been growing them domesticated as early as 500 BC.
Hernan Cortes is thought to have been the ﬁrst person to introduce tomatoes to Europe.
At the time, the most common member of the tomato family was the small yellow tomato, or what we’d today think of as a cherry tomato. Once the tomato hit Europe, many new varieties came to the market, giving us new options like beefsteak tomatoes, oxheart tomatoes, plum tomatoes, pear tomatoes, grape tomatoes, and campari tomatoes. For years people have debated how to classify a tomato. Well, fear no more. Today, I shall clear up all confusion.
First, we should deﬁne fruit. The Oxford Dictionary deﬁnes a fruit as “the sweet and ﬂeshy product of a tree or other plant that contains seed and can be eaten as food” or “a male homosexual.” Tomatoes are ﬂeshy. Tomatoes come from plants. Tomatoes have seeds. Tomatoes can be eaten as food. Now, in my book, tomatoes typically do not qualify as homosexual men. However. in the world of synonymizing gay with lesser, someone once probably called a tomato gay.
Although I could end here with all of that compelling evidence, I’ll continue to prove my point. If we delve into botany, we can ﬁnd an even narrower deﬁnition of fruit. Wikipedia states that in botanical terms, “a fruit is a part of a ﬂowering plant that derives from speciﬁc tissues of the flower, one or more ovaries, and in some cases accessory tissues.” This brings me back to biology in 9‘h grade when a classmate had a bag of strawberries she was eating. Ms. Boulay opened her mouth and yelled, “You’re eating an ovary!” Although I had biology during ﬁrst block, I’m positive that no one drifted off for the rest of class following that exclamation. in humans, ovaries are the egg-producing part of the female reproductive system. Well, plants gotta make babies too. The tomato is the part of the tomato plant that creates seeds.
This seems like yet another place where we can add the tomato to the fruit side of the aisle. Thinking about fruits, we tend to think sweet, while we think savory for vegetables If we were using this reasoning, wouldn’t we add tomatoes to the vegetable category? Yes, but that’s wrong. There’s a very big difference between a culinary vegetable and a botanical fruit. Oranges and pears are both botanical fruits. it’s a fact that both have seeds and are the ovaries from their respective trees. There’s also no debate that oranges and pears have sweet ﬂavors, rather than savory. On the other side, turnips and broccoli are both culinary vegetables.
No one can deny that they have more savory ﬂavors. Here’s where it gets tricky. Something can be both a culinary vegetable and a botanical fruit. This is where tomatoes ﬁt in. You aren’t going to have a tomato parfait or tomato-ﬂavored frosting, whereas you might for strawberries or lemons. However, tomatoes, strawberries, and lemons all have seeds and are all the ovaries of their plants, making them botanical fruits. As the old saying goes, tomato, tomato, potato, potato. I don’t really know how a potato is categorized (and quite frankly, I don’t care), but 1 do know that a tomato is a fruit. After extensive research, it’s quite clear that when it comes to eating, tomatoes shouldn’t be lumped together with apples and oranges. However, as far as its biological classiﬁcation, a tomato is just as much of an ovary as a lime is. Regardless of what we call them, they still bother me.