The Tomato: Fruit Or Vegetable?
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Tomato: fruit or vegetable?

People are constantly confused by this question because tomatoes are used as both!

First, let's look at the definitions for each word from the World English Dictionary:

Fruit: noun - 1. the ripened ovary of a flowering plant, containing one or more seeds.

Vegetable: noun - 1. any of various herbaceous plants having parts that are used as food.

So it seems to me that according to this, pretty much any herbaceous (non-woody) plant part that you can eat is a vegetable.

Hmm. So an apple is a fruit (because it has seeds inside it), but not a vegetable (because apple trees are made of wood). An iceberg lettuce is a vegetable but not a fruit, because when you cut it open, its head has no seeds inside.

So what is a tomato?

Tomato plants are more or less non-woody, unless they get really huge. So you could call tomatoes herbaceous, but I'm not sure.

This article in Science Daily says tomatoes are "weakly woody", but a lot of other sites call tomato plants herbaceous.

But tomatoes are flowering plants, and it's pretty obvious that tomatoes have seeds inside them. So tomatoes are definitely a fruit.

Whether the tomato is also a vegetable seems to depend on how you classify the plant it grows on.

It gets even better: according to this article, tomatoes are legally classified as a vegetable in the US! (the article is pretty funny)

A controversy!

So what do you think? The tomato: fruit or vegetable?



What Do You Think?

Is the tomato a fruit or a vegetable? How do you know? Give us some sources, information, or stories about why you think so.

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