Fruits Disguised as Veggies? Scary.
If you met an eggplant at a Halloween party, you might say, “Hey, awesome veggie costume!”
But the eggplant would have to reply, “Actually, I’m a fruit.” So would the cucumber, the olive, and the pepper. All fruits. Talk about great costumes!
Scientifically speaking, many of the foods we refer to as vegetables are actually fruits. If we look at the matter from a botanical viewpoint it is really rather obvious. A fruit is a seed-bearing structure that develops from the ovary of a flowering plant. Pumpkins, squash, avocados, zucchini, and tomatoes are all botanically fruits.
On the other hand, vegetables are all the other plant parts that we like to eat, like seeds, roots, leaves, and stems. Celery (stems), lettuce and spinach (leaves), cauliflower and broccoli (flowers), peas, beans, and corn (seeds), and beets, carrots and potatoes (roots) are all examples of vegetables.
So, to make any costume–party unmasking easy, if it’s from a plant and has seeds, it’s a fruit; if it doesn’t, it’s a vegetable.
Why do we learn that peppers, tomatoes, corn and cucumbers are vegetables? Blame it on culinary tradition! When it comes to cooking, fruits are generally sweet tasting and vegetables are more savory and less sweet. In the food world, the part of the plant we are eating does not generally matter in terms of its classification – taste does!
In the end, the botanical classification system makes a clear dividing line between fruits and vegetables, while the culinary system of classification is more ambiguous, causing much confusion about what is a vegetable and what is a fruit.
But the good news is that fruits and vegetables are grouped together as part of a healthy diet, so you can simply pick your favorites and enjoy them without the science degree.
If you would like to learn more about the confusing conundrum of categorizing fruits and veggies, check out this fun video.