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Mar 31, 2008

Tomato, Fruit or Vegetable

Did you know...

It is neither
It is actually a berry!
But then again most berries are considered a fruit!

Botanically, 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 the foodstuffs usually called fruits and, from a culinary standpoint, it is typically served as part of a salad or main course of a meal,like vegetables, rather than as a dessert,like fruits. The term "vegetable" has no botanical meaning and is purely a culinary term. BUT the USA Supreme Court in 1893 declared the tomato a vegetable because they were usually eaten with a meal rather than as a dessert, like fruit and berries. The court did not reclassify the tomato for botanical purposes other than for paying a tax under a tariff 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. Notice most of these grow on vines.

The massive "tomato tree" growing inside the Walt Disney World Resort's experimental greenhouses in Lake Buena Vista, Florida may be the largest single tomato plant in the world. The plant has been recognized as a Guinness World Record Holder, with a harvest of more than 32,000 tomatoes and a total weight of 1,151.84 pounds. This one-of-a-kind plant yields thousands of tomatoes at one time from a single vine. Yong Huang, Epcot's manager of agricultural science discovered the unique plant in Beijing, China. Huang brought its seeds to Epcot and created the specialized greenhouse for the fruit to grow. The vine grows golf ball-sized tomatoes which are served at Walt Disney World restaurants. The world record-setting tomato tree can be seen by guests along the Living With the Land boat ride at Epcot.

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