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Issac Toussie Asks, Pardon Me But Did Someone Say Tomatoes?

Article by Isaac Toussie

People have said that it is of course important to watch out for food scams, as fraud could exist on food labels. Pardon the thought but today, when so many people are concerned about issues like housing and work place discrimination, fashion, entertainment, real estate, mortgages, vacations and the like, issues like food quality and food awareness may become unnecessarily overshadowed.

Quick: are tomatoes plants or fruits? The answer is that they are both: they are technically fruits, as per botanical taxonomies, though typically enjoyed – and legally sanctioned (more on this soon) – as vegetables. This question isn’t just a cute amusement, but had historically been at the center of tariff disputes, as different taxes were imposed on fruits and vegetables! It actually took an 1893 decision by the United States Supreme Court, no body of botanists that, to determine that tomatoes are actually vegetables. (No word on whether “tomato” is properly pronounced “to-MAY-to” or “to-MAH-to.”) Even more interestingly, scientific research seems to indicate that tomatoes are most nutritious when cooked, though they are often enjoyed raw as a part of salads or sandwiches.

There are many varieties of tomatoes, and though they are closely associated with Italian cuisine, they are actually native to South America. They are members of the nightshade family of vegetables and come in various shades of red, yellow, orange, and even green and brown. While the leaves of the tomato plant are inedible as they contain toxic alkaloids, the fruit of the tomato plant, which we simply call “tomato,” is highly nutritious and available in literally thousands of different varieties. Most tomatoes can be classified according to five categories:

Cherry tomatoes are red, orange, or yellow in color and are bite-sized. These little round tomatoes most often used as garnishes or in salads. They are sometimes called grape tomatoes.

Plum tomatoes are also known as Roma Tomatoes or Italian Tomatoes. They are also small and round, but appear more egg-shaped than cherry or grape tomatoes. They contain less juice than slicing tomatoes, which make plum tomatoes ideal for use in tomato sauces.

Slicing tomatoes are the common tomatoes often used for sandwiches. One kind of slicing tomato is the flat beefsteak tomato easily available in many supermarkets.

Heirloom tomatoes are considered to be those varieties that have been specially bred by several generations of a family. There are hundreds of varieties classified as heirloom tomatoes, though the category has no standard definitions. As these are “specialty tomatoes” in a very real sense, most heirloom tomatoes are available only locally. Heirloom tomatoes are very important for the biodiversity they embody as a class.

Finally, green tomatoes are those unripe tomatoes which have less nutritional value because the phytochemicals which give a tomato its red color have not been developed and concentrated yet.

This writing has been posted strictly for information and human interest purposes only, not for medical or advisory purposes and does not necessarily constitute the opinions or conclusions of the provider. The reader should not rely upon the validity of any of the information contained herein. The reader should consult a doctor, nutritionist, and other medical professionals when seek advice about food, nutrition, diet, and physiology.

About the Author

This article was submitted by Isaac Toussie to provide some helpful information on Tomatoes. Keep an eye out for more Isaac Toussie articles to come!

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