By Meghan Reynolds
Throughout history, humans have gained the nasty habit of sorting, and categorizing. This includes people, food, and toys. However, some objects are just too hard to fit into one area.
One such culprit, is the tomato. Many students make the statement that the tomato is a fruit, while others claim that it is a vegetable. While some of the reasons as to why they believe this can be rather foolish, it doesn’t clear up any of the confusion.
There’s an overwhelmingly large amount of people that believe that tomatoes are vegetables, to the point that Supreme Court itself ruled in 2013 that tomatoes are indeed vegetables. One such student sharing this mindset is named Alex Godoy, a sophomore.
I sprung the question on him very abruptly in the hallway. He responded with the same haste, “A vegetable, right?” I asked him why he thought this, to which he gave a very interesting answer. “Whenever I see a generic picture of vegetables, there’s usually tomatoes included in it,” he said, “but it is a vegetable, right?”
Interestingly enough, there are many fruits and vegetables mistaken for each other, there are even some people that believe that avocados and coconuts are nuts.
I consulted with AJ Baker, also titled ‘The Culinary Queen’, and asked her the true label for tomatoes. She explained that there is a acidity chart. If said food item is a fruit, then it will naturally contain high amounts of acidity, while vegetables are fairly low in acidity amounts.
“That’s why when you bite into a carrot, it’s not sour,” Baker explains, “In the same way, avocados are not fruits. There is such a low amount of acidity that they’re not considered fruits, but vegetables. Even coconuts contain some sort of acidity, classifying them as a fruit, rather than a nut.”
In elementary schools, science teachers usually taught students that whatever grows from a tree, bush or a vine, is considered a fruit, and whatever grows in the ground is considered a vegetable.
I met with Ms. Koch, an AP and general biology teacher, and she helped to shed some light on the classification of fruits and vegetables.
Turns out, classification with biology is much different than that of the culinary aspect. While meeting with Ms. Koch, she seemed rather surprised when I explained the acidity chart. That was when she broke out the books, and taught me the basics.
We turned to a certain page, and went through the ‘mating’ process of the flower. Ms. Koch explained, “fruits are classified as anything that grows from the ovaries of a flower. But if it’s a stem, leaf, or a root, it is a vegetable.” She then proceeded to show me examples of both, and the parts of a plant.
In this way, avocados are most certainly fruits, corn is a fruit, beans are fruits and so is anything that comes from a flower. Remember that even vegetable plants flower, but they do NOT produce anything from them.
Ms. Koch and I concluded that there may be multiple ways to sort vegetables and fruits, mainly due to the different purposes they could serve. If you’re considering the culinary side of things, then the acidity chart may be for you, but if you’re referring to how they grow, then the scientific classification is the way to go.
The tomato is a very controversial fruit, evidently. Opinions may clash, people may fight, but in the end, a tomato is most definitely a fruit.