Tomatoes, Red, Food, Fresh, Market

The tomato is a member of the nightshade family and has been thought to be poisonous. Really the leaves are! At one point it was considered a fruit to avoid taxation, but in the late 1800’s that the Supreme Court ruled it was a vegetable and may be taxed accordingly. The U.S. passed the 1883 Tariff Act that required a 10% tax on imported vegetables. This law was challenged on the grounds that the tomato was actually a fruit, not a vegetable. . All these 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 soup, fish or meats which constitute the principal part of the repast, and not, like fruit generally, as dessert.”
The tomato has a brilliant history coming in the Americas, traveled to Europe and then returned to the Americas to create the tomato we have today. Lycopersicon Esculentum has become a staple in many cultures.
Today eight species of the berries are still located in Peru which leads to what a Russian scientist, Vavilov, believed this to find the center of a crop species that you must locate area where it has its greatest diversity.
The array of wild celery relatives goes from the tip of Chili to Ecuador and inland nearly 200 miles. The fruits of the wild tomato species are small. They don’t tolerate frost. All members of the tomato family are hermaphroditic, while the cultivated tomato is self fertile and in-compatible with other members of this genus.
The tomato was called”xitomatl” by the Aztecs, while Central America tribes called it”Tomati”. Ancient Peruvian cultures fail to mention anything like a tomato as being an important part of their diet. The Aztec culture mentions dishes made from peppers, salt, and tomatoes. The cerasiforme variety continues to grow wild in Central America producing small, cherry size fruit on a vine.
Matthiolus wrote in 1544 describing berries or”pomid’oro (golden apple)” and they have been eaten with oil, salt and pepper. This is encouraging evidence that the European berries were of a yellow selection.
The early Spanish name for the tomato was pome dei Moro (Moor’s Apple). The French called it the pomme d’amour (Love Apple). Carl Linnaeus in Germany came up with a name of Lycopersicon Esculentum which literally means,”edible wolf peach”. The English noted the tomato as early as 1596 as the Love Apple which was eaten abroad and described them as rank and stinking. A 1692 cookbook published in Naples cites berries.
Several cookbooks in the early 1800s in America contained recipes which included tomatoes. Tomatoes were sold in Boston’s Quincy Market in 1835. Four varieties of tomatoes were listed in Thomas Bridgeman’s catalogue in 1847 (cherry, pear, big yellow and large squash).
It’s apparent that the tomato was firmly planted in western culture by the late 1800s. Heirloom varieties come in varying shapes, sizes and colours. Some are green, some have green stripes, some are rainbow colored, some are shaped like peppers, some are nearly black, some are dark purple, some are cherry size and some weigh over two pounds.
The balance between a fantastic tasting fruit with a tough fruit tolerant to transport is much desired by growers. Ripe berries are tender and bruise easily, starting to decline in quality in a few days. The chemical ethylene results in the berries to ripen and is created by the tomato as the seeds develop near completion.
Normally, growers select tomatoes as the shoulders of the fruit shed their dark green colour allowing the tomatoes to be shipped while resisting bruising or rotting. Usually the tomatoes are red when they reach their destination or can be induced to ripen with the use of an ethylene spray. The taste suffers because of this practice.
From the early 1990s, a bio-engineered tomato called’Flavr Savr” was released. This was a huge blunder, as the public wasn’t in favor of bioengineered products and has since been removed from the marketplace.
The purported advantage of lycopene (responsible for its deep red color) has been touted as an anti-oxidant, a molecule which wipes out free radicals that cause cancer in humans. Tomatoes are a great source of lycopene and many studies have confirmed that people who consume tomato products seem to have a decline in the risk of cancer.
Tomatoes are cholesterol free. Studies indicate that eating cooked tomatoes reduces the likelihood of cholesterol related heart problems and some cancers. Cooking tomatoes releases the lycopene from the skin of the tomato.
Tomatoes are ranked 16th among all fruits and vegetables as a source of vitamin A and 13th in vitamin C.
Clearly the tomato is the single most important fruit or vegetable in the western diet concerning a source of vitamins and minerals.
Not bad for a product that has been regarded as hazardous to ones health by many until the late 1800s.

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