Solanum lycopersicum, or simply ‘tomato’ in common term, is known throughout the world because of its extensive use in culinary arts. Despite its popularity as a cooking ingredient, many people do not know how to classify it. For some, they think it is a fruit, while others say it is a vegetable. In order to prevent this kind of confusion, it is quite interesting to look at some of its basic qualities and learn why tomato is considered a fruit.
The Reason Why Tomato Is Generally Considered a Fruit
Why is a tomato a fruit? Because it functions as the ovary of a flowering plant, tomato is naturally a fruit. The reason why many people mistake it for a vegetable is its taste, which is less sweet compared to fruits such as bananas, apples and oranges. Add to that, people use it together with other vegetables when cooking. In botany, the word ‘vegetable’ is not regarded as a category of plants. Instead, many individuals consider it a vegetable only in the art and practice of cooking.
The question whether a tomato is a fruit or a vegetable is of upmost importance especially because of its legal implications in various places. For instance, this question has spurred a Congressional debate in the U.S. on whether it is a fruit or not. When dealing with tomatoes outside the scope of U.S. tariffs, it is beyond question that it is in fact a fruit. It belongs with the same category as many other fruits like squashes, cucumbers and eggplants.
Additional Information and Other Interesting Details
Tomatoes have so many culinary uses. People use them to cook appetizing specialties like tomato pie, pizzas and bruschetta. Home gardeners plant various kinds of this fruit including Black Krim, Big Boy and Beefsteak VFN. Another interesting variety is called Juliet, which is primarily a cherry tomato with an oblong shape.
In order to improve the different breeds of this fruit, different organizations, corporations and universities from different parts of the world are holding active breeding programs. These include the AVRDC – The World Vegetable Center in Taiwan, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Tomato Genetic Resource Center. In addition, big companies also have their very own breeding programs such as Bejoseed, Monsanto and Heinz. All of these moves are being conducted to improve various aspects of the fruit including nutritional value, pest tolerance and disease tolerance. Furthermore, these efforts also try to enhance the flavor, shape as well as size.