Droids, Iphones and their ilk have, in my opinion, unfortunately replaced the debates, questions, ideas and discussions of “the old days” (2010 for our family) but that’s another topic. Out came the phone, and the magic Google oracle appeared. “Oh great Google God,” we asked……”What IS the difference between a fruit and a vegetable, anyway?”
It turns out even Google was a little stymied by this question. There were lots of instances where others had asked this question, and had gotten various responses and disagreements. Even the valedictorian of Google, Wikipedia couldn’t really make up its mind. The “seed” response was popular, as was a fruit being “any edible part of a plant with a sweet flavor whereas vegetables have a savory flavor. I’m sorry, but there is not a soul on this Earth who can convince me brussel sprouts are savory, unless savory is a synonym for “BLECH.”
Reproductive properties are apparently important for fruit definitions: a fruit is the ovary or womb of a plant, containing the seeds. When a Mommy and Daddy fruit love each other very much and are way, way older than you and able to support a family and are using safe methods, then the Daddy fruit uses its special fruit parts that only boy plants have and the Mommy part has special parts that only ladies have (but which you should never show anyone)……oh, never mind, just go watch some HBO.
So it seems like “fruit” is easy to define, but vegetables not so much. The dictionary defines a vegetable as: The edible part of a plant, such as the root of the beet, the leaf of spinach, or the flower buds of broccoli or cauliflower.
So in other words, because a tomato is an edible part of a plant and is also a “ripened ovary that contains seeds” that makes it a fruit AND a vegetable. But wait a minute…..doesn’t that then also apply to apples, oranges, bananas, strawberries, etc??? They are also edible parts of plants that contain seeds. That doesn’t make sense. Someone else suggested that the difference is “generally determined by the amount of Vitamin C content.” I think that person needs to get a Smart phone.
Finally, we found some responses from actual Botanists. It seems that botanists don’t even really like the word vegetable. Kind of like how psychologists don’t like the word “crazy,” a word which also has no technical definition.
“Vegetable is a culinary term. Its definition has no scientific value and is somewhat arbitrary and subjective. All parts of herbaceous plants eaten as food by humans, whole or in part, are generally considered vegetables. Mushrooms, though belonging to the biological kingdom, fungi, are also commonly considered vegetables…Since ‘vegetable’ is not a botanical term, there is no contradiction in referring to a plant part as a fruit while also being considered a vegetable. Given this general rule of thumb, vegetables can include leaves (lettuce), stems (asparagus), roots (carrots), flowers (broccoli), bulbs (garlic), seeds (peas and beans) and of course the botanical fruits like cucumbers, squash, pumpkins, and capsicums.”(Wikipedia.org)