Tomatoes, Red, Salad, Food, Fresh

The English word tomato comes from the Spanish tomati. The tomato is a member of the nightshade family and was regarded as poisonous. Actually 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 legislation was challenged on the grounds that the tomato was actually a fruit, not a vegetable. But in common language. . 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 following soup, fish or meats which constitute the main part of the repast, and not, like fruit generally, as dessert.”
The tomato has a colorful history originating in the Americas, traveled to Europe and then returned to the Americas to produce the tomato we have today. Lycopersicon Esculentum has become a staple in many cultures.
Nowadays eight species of the berries are still found in Peru which contributes to what a Russian scientist, Vavilov, believed this to find the center of a crop species you must find area where it has its greatest diversity.
The array of wild celery relatives extends from the tip of Chili to Ecuador and inland almost 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” from 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 little, cherry size fruit on a vine.
Matthiolus wrote in 1544 describing berries or”pomid’oro (golden apple)” and they have been consumed with oil, salt and pepper. This is encouraging evidence that the first European tomatoes were of a yellow variety.
The early Spanish name for the tomato was pome dei Moro (Moor’s Apple). Carl Linnaeus in Germany came up with a title of Lycopersicon Esculentum which literally means,”edible wolf peach”. The English noted the tomato as early as 1596 as the Love Apple that was eaten abroad and described them as status and stinking. A 1692 cookbook printed in Naples cites berries.
Several cookbooks in the early 1800s in America contained recipes which included tomatoes. Tomatoes were offered in Boston’s Quincy Market in 1835. Four varieties of tomatoes were recorded in Thomas Bridgeman’s catalogue in 1847 (cherry, pear, big yellow and large squash).
It is clear that the tomato has been firmly planted in western culture by the late 1800s. Heirloom varieties come in varying shapes, sizes and colors. Some are green, some have green stripes, some are rainbow coloured, some are shaped like peppers, some are almost black, some are darkish purple, some are cherry size and some weigh over two pounds.
The balance between a fantastic tasting fruit with a difficult fruit tolerant to shipping is much desired by growers. Ripe berries are tender and bruise easily, beginning to decrease in quality in a few days. The chemical ethylene causes the tomatoes to ripen and is created by the tomato as the seeds develop near completion.
Normally, growers select tomatoes just as the shoulders of the fruit shed their dark green color 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 flavor suffers because of the practice.
In the early 1990s, a bio-engineered tomato called’Flavr Savr” was released. This was a massive blunder, since the public wasn’t in favor of bioengineered products and has since been removed from the market.
The purported benefit of lycopene (responsible for its deep red color) was touted as an anti-oxidant, a molecule which wipes out free radicals that cause cancer in humans. Tomatoes are a excellent source of lycopene and many studies have confirmed that people who consume tomato products appear to have a reduction in the risk of cancer. Studies indicate that eating cooked tomatoes reduces the odds of cholesterol associated with heart problems and some cancers. Cooking tomatoes releases the lycopene in 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 was thought to be hazardous to ones health by many until the late 1800s.

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