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10 Tomato Facts You Had No Idea About
Not only is the Tomato Festival happening soon (August 10), but on vines all around Nashville tomatoes are ripening to perfection. Enigmatic as it is succulent, the tomato lies at the intersection between fruit and vegetable, falling just barely into "fruit" category. In the 1886 case of Nix v. Hedden the U.S. Supreme Court actually made the ruling that tomatoes are vegetables; however, tomatoes are fruits, botanically speaking. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Botany defines a fruit as "strictly, the ripened ovary of a plant and its contents. More loosely, the term is extended to the ripened ovary and seeds together with any structure with which they are combined." Which means the tomato is a fruit, Supreme Court be damned. Want to know some more little-known tomato facts? Read on.
1) The tomato was dubbed a veggie to protect American farmers. In 1883, it became important that tomatoes be defined as vegetables because imported vegetables began to be taxed in an effort to protect domestic vegetable farmers. The matter reached the Supreme Court in 1886, when some tomatoes imported from the West Indies were taxed upon arrival in New York. The plaintiff sued the port collector, maintaining that tomatoes are fruits and shouldn't be taxed as vegetables. The Supreme Court decided that tomatoes are botanically defined as fruit, but that because consumers think of tomatoes as vegetables they should be legally defined that way.
2) Ketchup originally didn't have tomatoes in it. The first ketchups (in the mid-1700s) had mushroom, seafood (often anchovies), or walnut it them--not tomatoes at all. Furthermore, ketchup was formerly spelled "catsup" before the more common "ketchup" spelling was adopted.
3) Tomato is great to grate. According to Bon Appetite, you should think again if you've never thought about taking a common cheese grater to a ripe tomato. Says the magazine, "It yields a pure pulp perfectly suited to so many uses. Simply slice in half, then grate the cut side over the coarse holes of a box grater ... Whisk the results into vinaigrettes, quick salsas, and gazpacho, or make tomato jam. The slightly chunky pulp also works well in fresh pasta sauces, frittatas, and as a sandwich topper--no peeling or chopping required."
4) In a part of Spain, there's an annual tradition called "La Tomatina" of pelting your neighbors with tomatoes.
5) People have been throwing rotten produce at people they dislike since at least A.D. 63.Says The Learning Channel, "Pelting unlucky victims with rotten produce is one of our oldest forms of expression, older even than tomato cultivation. Rotten tomatoes are often associated with Shakespeare's Globe Theater in Elizabethan London, but in actuality, tomatoes were still uncommon and weren't even mentioned in the first English cookbook until 1752, nearly 150 years later."
6) Drinking tomato juice, and bathing in it, may help clear up skin disorders like eczema.
7) Tomato leaves are poisonous.
8) Tomatoes help fight cancer. According to studies, one fresh tomato or a teaspoon of tomato paste every day can help fight breast and prostate cancer, leukemia, lymphoma, and even lung cancer. Chalk it all up to Lycopene, a natural miracle antioxidant that can stop the growth of cancer cells. Lycopene is found in higher amounts in cooked tomatoes than in raw tomatoes.
9) They're an acquired taste.Not many children like tomatoes right off the bat. That's because their high acidity can be a turn-off to developing tastebuds. Over time the savory-loving tastebuds will develop that may help your kiddo learn to love the tomato.10) Tomatoes are the No. 1 edible plant people grow in their yards.Do you grow tomatoes? Love them like I do? Most importantly, will I see you at the Tomato Festival?
TJ Anderson is a Nashville Realtor with Benchmark Realty who's helped countless clients both buy a home and sell a home in Nashville, Tennessee. He blogs about Nashville regularly, from Nashville-area....
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