Fruits often mistaken as Vegetable

Fruits often mistaken as Vegetable

by: Arlene Gentallan

What is the difference between fruits and vegetables?

        When it comes to the difference between fruits and vegetables, there are those which will make you think twice. Or chances are, you have already been deceived.

        For the moment of truth. Here's a list of fruits commonly mistaken as vegetables:

  • avocados
  • beans
  • black pepper
  • corn
  • cucumbers
  • courgette 
  • bell peppers
  • eggplants
  • olives
  • peppers
  • peanuts
  • peas
  • pea pod
  • pumpkins / squash
  • rice
  • tomatoes
  • wheat
  • zucchini 

        ...yes, they are all fruits.

        The difference between a fruit and vegetable is quite simple but tricky. Botanically, a fruit matures from a flower (the reproductive part) and it carries seed/s.

        While a vegetable, based on it's culinary meaning, is all the other edible part like leaves, stem, flower buds, and roots. The classification of vegetable is actually problematic because there's no standard classification system for it. It is defined based on the art of cooking and the old definition that it's an "edible part of a plant."

The problem arise because fruits have precise definition, courtesy of biology, but when we speak of vegetable, that's another thing. It's not concise.

        The difference between fruits and vegetables is ambiguous at times that TOMATO found itself in a hot seat, namely the United States Supreme Court in 1893. At a decision Nix v. Hedden, the court recognized that botanically speaking, tomato is a fruit.

        It was only labeled as vegetable so it can be taxed with respect to the Tariff Act of 1883. The Tariff Act dictates that imported vegetables be taxed, but not fruits.

        Here's an excerpt:

"There being no evidence that the words 'fruit' and 'vegetables' have acquired any special meaning in trade or commerce, they must receive their ordinary meaning. Of that meaning the court is bound to take judicial notice, as it does in regard to all words in our own tongue; and upon such a question dictionaries are admitted, not as evidence, but only as aids to the memory and understanding of the court. "

"Botanically speaking, tomatoes are the fruit of a vine, just as are cucumbers, squashes, beans, and peas. But in the common language of the people, whether sellers or consumers of provisions, all these are vegetables which are grown in kitchen gardens, and which, whether eaten cooked or raw, are, like potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, beets, cauliflower, cabbage, celery, and lettuce, usually served at dinner in, with, or after the soup, fish, or meats which constitute the principal part of the repast, and not, like fruits generally, as dessert."

        So the next time, you see a fruit in the vegetable section of your grocery, it's probably the trade, commerce, and law you're dealing with :) and it's ancient ambiguous definition.