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Is a Tomato a Fruit or a Vegetable? Find out Here!


You say tomâto, we say tomäto. Have you ever wondered which side of that dispute is correct? Actually, it’s all just a matter of diction. The real argument, concerning our round, red friend is whether or not it’s a vegetable or a fruit. Many a friendship has been tested by this debate. In fact, in the 19th century, the Supreme Court was witness to a lawsuit concerning the lowly tomato. More on that later. First, we’re hoping to shed some light on the topic.

Scientifically speaking, a tomato is definitely a fruit. Fruits are first formed in the base of the flower, and contain the seeds of the plant. Blueberries, raspberries, and oranges are fruits, and so are many kinds of nuts. Seems pretty straightforward.

The confusion may lie in how we use the tomato.

As far as cooking is concerned some fruits, like the tomato, may be considered vegetables because they are used in savory dishes. The term 'vegetable' is more generally used of other edible parts of plants, such as cabbage leaves, celery stalks, and potato tubers, which are not strictly the fruit of the plant from which they come.  So why the fuss?

is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable

It turns out this argument dates back centuries. In the 19th century, the U.S. Supreme Court faced a lawsuit concerning the tomato’s true origins. At the time the Port Authority of New York classified tomatoes as vegetables, which were subject to a 10 percent import tax. A fruit importer argued that tomatoes were fruits, which were not taxed.

In the Supreme Court decision, the justices had to distinguish between science and everyday life. The justices admitted that botanically speaking, tomatoes were technically fruits. But in everyday life, they decided, vegetables were things "usually served at dinner in, with, or after the soup, fish, or meats ... and not, like fruits generally, as dessert." So under customs law, the court ruled, tomatoes counted as vegetables — and the importer had to continue paying the tariff.

So there you have it. Now you can no longer ask, "Is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable?" Honestly, we say just eat and enjoy the tomato!

With tomato season just around the corner, you can start preparing your favorite recipe! Stop by our grocery store today and pick up some organic vine ripe and organic grape tomatoes. Or any of our other delectable farm fresh vegetables. But, seriously; tomatoes are fruits.