Sep 13, 2013

Fruits and Veggies

Beans, corn, bell peppers, peas, eggplant, pumpkins, cucumbers, squash, and tomatoes are all fruits. That is because, botanically speaking, fruits are the part of flowering plants that contain the seeds and are the means by which such plants disseminate those seeds. So even nuts are fruits. Grains, which are really over-sized seeds are also fruits.

Also, botanically speaking, vegetables are all the other parts of the plant, including the leaves (e.g. lettuce and spinach), roots (e.g. potatoes and carrots), bulbs (e.g. onions and garlic), flowers (e.g. artichokes, broccoli, and cauliflower), and stems (e.g. rhubarb and celery). Also, botanically speaking, some spices, such as allspice and chilies, are fruits.

If it is from a plant and has seeds (or would have seeds if it wasn't genetically engineered or cultivated to not have them, as with seedless grapes), it is a fruit; if it does not naturally have seeds, it is a vegetable.

The reason we learn peppers, corn, and cucumbers are vegetables and are found in the veggie section is due to tradition. Culinary traditions (with no scientific value) tell us the part of the plant we are eating does not matter, taste does. Fruits are generally sweet tasting and vegetables are more savory and less sweet. Fruits are also typically served as part of dessert or as snacks, and vegetables are often part of the main dish.

Scientific classification system makes a clear dividing line between fruits and vegetables, while the culinary system of classification is much more ambiguous. Not to be outdone, The United States Supreme Court entered the debate and gave a legal verdict about whether a tomato should be classified as a vegetable or a fruit. They decided unanimously, in Nix vs. Hedden, 1883, that a tomato is a vegetable, even though it is a botanical fruit. I use a much more simple method - If I like it, it's a fruit, if I do not like it, it's a vegetable.