Kajol Maheshwari | Sports Editor
The long-standing debate of the true identity of a tomato has been perpetuating for decades. Is it a fruit, a vegetable, or neither? A new debate has entered the mix. What exactly are nuts? They originate from plants, so should they qualify as produce?
When one ponders over the word ‘fruit,’ words such as ‘juicy,’ ‘fresh,’ and ‘sweet,’ may enter one’s thoughts. Alternatively, when one considers ‘almonds,’ ‘hard’ and ‘dry’ may be the adjectives that are associated with this food. It may seem that the only similarity between these two items is that they can be found at Safeway, but almonds are more related to fruits than you may think.
According to Jennifer K. Nelson, a registered dietitian and a former associate professor of nutrition at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, and Katherine Zeratsky, certified in dietetics by the American Dietetic Association, fruits and vegetables are classified according to botany and culinary practices.
Mayo Clinic reports that botanists define fruit as “the part of the plant that develops from a flower [and] the section of the plant that contains the seeds.” Alternatively, Vegetables are the remaining parts of the plant, which includes the stem, leaves, roots, and flower buds.
By this definition, the following are scientifically categorized as fruits: avocado, beans, peapods, corn kernels, cucumbers, grains, nuts, olives peppers, pumpkin, squash, sunflower seeds and tomatoes. In fruits such as peaches and nectarines, the pit is broken open to reveal an almond-shaped kernel. According to Natural News, this is what almonds are: “the kernel within the pit of the fruit of the almond tree.”
However, for culinary purposes, there is a different method for categorizing fruits and vegetables. Vegetables are less sweet and more savory and often served as part of the main dish. Fruits are more sweet and tart and are typically served as a dessert or snack.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) Handbook for Cancer Prevention Volume 8: Fruits and Vegetables specifies that the culinary definition of fruit does not include nuts, grains, seeds, and fruits that are used as vegetables (i.e. tomatoes and cucumbers).
Next time you hear a debate about whether a tomato is a fruit or a vegetable, you can inform the population that a tomato is in fact both, and their favorite nut may not be as nutty as they thought.
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