The Tomato: Fruit or Vegetable?


Maeve Condron, Writer

There can be no debate that, scientifically, a tomato is a fruit. Fruits are the part of a flowering plant that has seeds and tomatoes fall under this broad definition.

So why are children shocked when they first learn that these healthy veggies are actually fruits?  Because in the culinary world, tomatoes are still vegetables.

So what is a vegetable? Any part of a plant that can be safely eaten. But that would make an apple a vegetable and that’s not right, not to scientists or chefs. It turns out that vegetables, as they are usually understood, do not exist in biology. Everything we think of as a vegetable falls under some other category. Squashes, beans, and peppers are all fruits. Carrots, potatoes, and parsnips are roots. Broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbages are flowers.

So what is a fruit and what is a vegetable? This question is so important to the function of the United States that the Supreme Court has weighed in. In the unanimous decision of Nix v. Hedden, the highest court in the land unequivocally stated that tomatoes are prepared and eaten like vegetables, thus making them so in the eyes of the court.

So are tomatoes a fruit or a vegetable? Both! Just don’t put them into a fruit salad.