Some types of food are the subject of a different type of food fight. Is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable? What goes into a vegetable salad—are you adding fruit to it? Which leads us to the question of the hour: is there really a difference between a fruit and vegetable? Read on to find out.
According to its botanical description, a fruit is a ripened ovary of flowering plants. Vegetables are the edible parts of plants. These parts include leaves, roots, stems, flowers, and bulbs.
Both fruits and vegetables are generally low in fat and calories and rich in vitamins, fiber, minerals, and antioxidants. Fruits have more sugar content and are higher in calories than most vegetables—potatoes and beets have high sugar content.
Fruits are mostly sweet to the taste, with the exception of fruits like avocados and tomatoes. Some may have bitter seeds. Vegetables, on the other hand, are not sweet. They may each be distinct in taste, but it is hard to classify them as sweet, salty, sour, or bitter.
Due to the difference in taste, we use fruits and vegetables in different dishes. Fruits are sweet, making them a great choice for desserts, juices, and garnishes. Vegetables make a good base for main courses or a healthy option for a side dish.
Fruits must contain seeds. They may be inside or outside. An example of a fruit that has seeds on the outside is a strawberry. Vegetables do not have to have seeds. They are mainly made up of roots, stems, and leaves.
It’s a Fruit, Not a Vegetable
People have incorrectly classified some fruits and vegetables for such a long time that incorrect classification is widely accepted. The following are some fruits that people mistake for vegetables.
- beans and string beans
- sweet potatoes
While picking fruits and vegetables, you should know which ones are edible and safe for consumption. Some may be poisonous, such as the ackee fruit. You shouldn’t eat certain parts of vegetables and should handle them properly during meal prep to avoid risks such as aflatoxins.
A Matter of Law
These differences are great to explore and debate, so much so that tomatoes were the subject of a U.S. Supreme Court debate. In 1893, the Supreme Court, due to its ruling in Nix v. Hedden, 149 U.S. 304 (1893), decided that the tomato is a vegetable, not a fruit. So the next time you enjoy a splash of color in your meal by adding vegetables and fruits to your diet, remember that it’s more than just simple classification. It’s a matter of debate.