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Debate: Is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable?

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Revision as of 07:12, 17 May 2008

Is the tomato a fruit?


Background and Context of Debate:

People often get mixed up as to whether a tomato is a fruit or a vegetable. Just to clear the confusion up, tomatoes are actually fruit, but there are still a lot of things similar to that of vegetables.

Argument #1


Tomatoes have seeds.

The word 'fruit' literally meens 'reproducing fertily' and that is what seeds are for. Any 'fruit' must have seeds and all foods with seeds must be fruit. This makes the literal meaning correct. All fruit have seeds and that applies to all fruit. If a "vegetable" has seeds, then actually it is a fruit. This is simply a technical thing about fruit. All fruit have seeds and anything withs seeds is fruit. Tomatoes often get mistaken as being vegetables because they have characteristics like vegetables but the golden rule for identifying fruit is that they have seeds and only fruit have seeds. Because tomatoes have seeds, they must be fruit.

Another fruit is also often mistaken as a "vegetable" and that is the pumpkin. The same principle does apply for this and really, pumpkin is a fruit.


Tomatoes grow on a stalk.

All vegetables grow on either a stem, stalk or roots(eg. carrots). Since tomatoes are grown on a stalk, they are technically considered vegetables. This is a principle that applies to all vegetables. You may say that peas and beans don't have stalks or stems. Well, that's because they are actually fruit and they do have small seeds.

On the food pyramid, tomatoes are vegetables.

On the food pyramid, the nutritional values and componets to tomatoes make them like vegatables.

Argument #2


Botanically, tomatoes are definately fruit.

Botanically speaking, tomatoes are definately considered fruit. So are watermelon, eggplant and cucumber. Botanically, fruit is described as any food with a seed or seeds.[1]


It was ruled by the US Surpreme Court as a vegetable.

The case of whether tomatoes were fruit or vegetables was brought the the Surpreme Court of the United States in 1893. There it was ruled as a vegetable.

Although tomatoes are botanically fruit, the court concluded that it was a vegetable because it is used for things like soup, ketchup and sauces. Fruit cannot be used for any of these things however most vegetables can be. [2]

Argument #3


Tomatoes are used for juice.

Only fruits can be squeezed for juice. Tomatoes are used for fruit juice, alongside apples, oranges, blackberries and even lemons (for lemonade) and turnips (turnip juice) which are each technically fruits (because they have seeds). The fact that tomatoes are squeezed for juice is another reason why tomatoes are technically fruit.


Fruit is eaten raw but tomatoes are cooked generally.

Generally, vegetables are cooked and fruits eaten raw. Tomatoes are usually cooked before eaten and therefore a vegetable.

Horticulturally, tomatoes are considered vegetables.

If you look for tomatoes at the shops, you would find them in the vegetables section. In our society, although tomatoes are botanically fruit, horticulturally they are considered a vegetable. But really most people just consider tomatoes to be vegetables and we just think of them as vegetables so we may as well call them that.


Really, tomatoes are both fruit and vegetable.

Because they have seeds and are squeezed for juice, that makes them fruit.

But because they grow on a stalk and are usually eaten cooked, that makes them vegetable.

While technically, tomatoes are fruit, everyone has they're own opinion and it really doesn't matter what you call them. There evidence for both sides is above, but it's up to you to decide which side you believe: Is the tomato a fruit or a vegetable?

External links and resources:

Ask Oxford:

Science Bob Q&As:Tomato -

Green Nature Facts:

Tomato -- Fruit or Vegetable -

Yahoo Q&A: Tomato:Fruit or Vegetable -

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