Fruits and Vegetables
• This stuff is scattered in the book.
– Pp. 92-101
– pp. 44-47
Squash and Melon
Fruits: Botanical and Popular
Botanically, a fruit is the ripened ovary wall. The ovary is part of the carpel, the innermost whorl of a flower, the female reproductive structure. The ovary contains the ovules, the haploid equivalent to mammalian eggs.
– Some fruits also contain parts of the flower base.
Botanical fruits can be classified as fleshy, dry dehiscent, and dry indehiscent. Most of what are popularly called fruits are fleshy fruits. The generally understood common definition of a fruit is sweet and aromatic fleshy plant products that are mainly eaten as dessert or a first course in a meal, and not as the main meal.
Thus, many fleshy fruits (in a botanical sense), such as tomato and cucumber, are considered vegetables in popular culture.
In botany, a vegetable is simply any plant or plant part.
In the common definition, vegetables are plant products eaten with the main course. In taste, they are salty or sour or savory, but not sweet. Some vegetables are botanical fruits: tomatoes and cucumbers for example. Others are plant stems, leaves, and roots.
• Botanically, a fruit is an ovary that has ripened after fertilization. • However, in 1883 a 10% duty was placed on all vegetables being imported into the US.
• John Nix, an imported from New Jersey, argued that he shouldn’t have to pay the duty on tomatoes, because botanists consider them fruits.
• The case went all the way to the Supreme Court (which means at least 3 separate courts examined the question). In 1893, the Court ruled that for legal purposes, tomatoes were a vegetable, not a fruit.
• Based on popular usage: vegetables (including tomatoes) are eaten at dinner, while fruits are sweet and are eaten at dessert.
• Tomatoes are the state vegetable of New Jersey. Ohio considers tomatoes to be the state fruit. In Arkansas, tomatoes are both the state vegetable and the state fruit (indecisive).
• "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad."
• In Spain, they
have an annual
• The tomato is a New World crop, native to the west
coast of South America and first domesticated in
Mexico. It is in the Solanaceae (nightshade) family,
as are potato, chile pepper, tobacco, and petunia.
– Species: Solanum lycopersicum, but until recently
• Brought back to Europe and to Asia (initially to the
Phillipines) by the Spanish. It grew well in the
Mediterranean climate and quickly caught on there.
• Many varieties. A big distinction: determinate vs.
– Determinate tomatoes flower and set fruit all at once, and have a sfixedsize. Bush tomatoes, favored by commercial
– Indeterminate varieties are vine types, which contnue to flower and set fruit until killed by a frost. Favored by home growers.
• Lycopersicon means “wolf peach”, because it is related to deadly nightshade. Some thought it could be used to generate werewolves: this was an old German legend about nightshade,
which Linnaeus borrowed when he named the species.
• It was thought to be poisonous in Britain and America, despite being eaten in large quantities elsewhere.
– In 1820, Colonel Robert Gibbon Johnson stood on the steps of the Salem Massachusetts courthouse, in front of 2000 people, and ate an entire bushel of tomatoes to prove that they weren’t poisonous. He survived. The local band played a mournful dirge as he ate, because they were sure he would soon die.
– This story may not actually be true: the first account appeared in print in 1906. It was dramatized in an early television series called “You Are There”, in 1949.
• First varieties to reach Europe were yellow,...
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