Friday, July 27, 2007

Tomato: Fruit or Vegetable?

Today, we are going to have a veggie quiz. The first question is the post title itself - Are tomatoes fruits or vegetable?

If you answered fruit, you are absolutely correct. If you answered vegetable, you are correct too... well, sort of.

The word "fruit" means the fleshy meat growing from the ripened ovary of a plant, and contains the seeds. So, by definition, tomatoes are fruits. The same goes with cucumbers, eggplants, peppers, string beans - all of which are widely mistaken as vegetables. However, for Americans, the tomato was, in fact, declared as a vegetable. In the 1893 case Nix v. Hedden, tomato importers sought to challenge a 10% tax imposed on tomatoes by claiming that tomatoes were a fruit (which was not subject to tax) rather than a vegetable. Though the U.S. Supreme Court found that the tomato was technically a fruit, since Americans ate it with the main meal rather than dessert, it could be taxed as a vegetable.

Ok, here's another veggie question for you: If Bugs Bunny was alive in 15th century, what would be the color of that carrot that he's munching? If you answered orange, sorry, you are wrong.

It was not until the 17th century that carrots turned orange, when growers from Denmark (the royal family of which was know as the House of Orange) crossed yellow and red carrots to create what has become the vegetable's universal color. Before that, carrots are colored white, purple, black, green and red.

Ready for one more veggie-related question? Here it is: How many vegetarians were there before 1847?

The answer is... zero! Sure, there are non-meat-eating folks during that time, but they are not known as "vegetarians". That term was coined in 1847 by the first members of the Vegetarian Society of Great Britain to describe people who did not eat meat, poultry, or fish. Some suggest that the word comes from the latin "vegetus" meaning "full of life" though the prevailing view is that it comes from its obvious source - the word "vegetable".

Before the word "vegetarian" was coined, non-meat-eating people are called as "pythagoreans". Named after the famous mathematician Pythagoras who was converted into this diet after studying with members of an Egyptian sect who abstained from eating meat. Today, if you use the term "pythagoreans", people would be thinking about their nightmare with geometry and trigonometry tests during their school days.

Speaking of vegetarians, India currently has the largest vegetarian population in the world (220 million). Made up mostly of Hindus (but also Buddhists and Jains), which prohibits the killing of anything living or with the potential for life. Indian vegetarians eat milk products but not eggs.

K.D. Lang, a famous singer who is a vegetarian, once said on national television that "meat stinks". This caused an uproar and her records were banned from most radio stations in the U.S. and Canada. Even in her own hometown of Consort, Alberta, people persecuted her for airing her views. A sign announcing "Home of k.d. lang" was defaced with the words "Eat beef, dyke". It was extremely frightning for her mother that she was forced to move.

If you think that was intense, take the case of Mani. Founder of a religious movement in the 3rd century, called Manichaenism, he was tortured and executed by the leaders of Persia in 276 AD because the movement espoused meatlessness. In the 4th century, Timothy, the Patriarch of Alexandria, tested Christian clergies in Alexandria by requiring them to eat meat. Those who refused were interrogated.

Random Odds & Ends
  • Egyptians used to worship cabbage heads as gods, and even enthroned them on elaborate altars.
  • In ancient Greece, the winner of an athletic event was given a bunch of celery, just like flowers are given today.
  • Corn is a member of the grass family - so it's not really a vegetable - it's a grain.
  • Christopher Columbus was the first to introduce peppers to Europe.
  • Even though the Spanish explorers brought tomatoes to Europe from South America, they only used them as decoration, fearing they were poisonous.


CatWoman said...

Way cool tidbits.

Erica said...

Didn't Reagan also declare the tomato a veggie so that they could say school lunches were healthy and contained x amount of veggie matter or something like that?

RicS said...

lol yes.. actually, reagan said tomato ketchup qualify as vegetable in american's lunches :P

thx for bringing that up.

4ndj4r said...

It was very common in the old days to torturing or eliminating someone (or group of man) because they have different habit, opinion, or belief. How about now..? Well, I guess in this modern day....the mass media would be the perfect weapon to torturing, eliminating or killing a person's feel and character. You see that this bad attitude of human kind is still within us right now? We are just doing it with more "polite" way.

Nice post man...


By the way, how can you possibly put adsense code in the end of post with just particular post...? You did it in the "edit html" in Template tab or just put the code in your html post (per post)? If you like to tell me how I will be very grateful but thanks anyway.

RicS said...


thx for your comments. yes, it is usually just a amusing trivia or fun fact for us now those things/habits that were in the past... maybe in 30 years or so, ppl would write about our current habits and would similarly be amused, if not, incredulous.

as for adsense in posts, perhaps this thread in adsense group may help you.