The tomato is a member of the nightshade family and has been regarded as poisonous. Really the leaves are!
At one stage it was considered a fruit to prevent 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 which required a 10% tax on imported vegetables. This legislation was challenged on the grounds that the tomato was actually a fruit, not a vegetable.
The tomato has a brilliant history originating in the Americas, traveled to Europe and then returned to the Americas to create the tomato we have now.
Nowadays eight species of the berries are still located in Peru which contributes to what a Russian scientist, Vavilov, believed this to find the middle of a crop species that you must find area where it has its greatest diversity.
The array of wild tomato relatives extends from the tip of Chili to Ecuador and inland nearly 200 miles. They don’t tolerate frost.
The tomato was known as”xitomatl” from the Aztecs, while Central America tribes called it”Tomati”. Ancient Peruvian cultures don’t mention anything like a tomato as being an important part of their diet. The Aztec culture cites dishes made from peppers, salt, and tomatoes. The cerasiforme variety keeps growing wild in Central America producing little, cherry size fruit on a vine.
Matthiolus composed in 1544 describing berries or”pomid’oro (golden apple)” and they have been consumed with oil, pepper and salt. This is encouraging evidence that the European berries were of a yellow selection.
Carl Linnaeus in Germany developed a title of Lycopersicon Esculentum which literally means,”edible wolf peach”. The English noted that the tomato as early as 1596 as the Love Apple which was eaten overseas and explained them as status and stinking. A 1692 cookbook printed in Naples cites berries.
Many cookbooks in the early 1800s in America contained recipes that included tomatoes. Tomatoes were offered in Boston’s Quincy Market in 1835. Four varieties of berries were recorded in Thomas Bridgeman’s catalog in 1847 (cherry, pear, big yellow and large squash).
It’s apparent that the tomato has been 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 coloured, some are shaped like peppers, some are nearly black, some are dark purple, some are cherry dimensions and some weigh over two pounds.
The balance between a fantastic tasting fruit with a difficult fruit tolerant to transport is much wanted by growers. Ripe berries are tender and bruise easily, starting to decrease in quality in a couple of days. The chemical ethylene results in the berries to ripen and is created by the tomato as the seeds grow near completion.
Typically, growers pick tomatoes as the shoulders of the fruit shed their dark green colour allowing the tomatoes to be sent while resisting bruising or rotting. The flavor suffers because of the practice.
This was a massive blunder, since the public wasn’t in favor of bioengineered products and has since been removed from the marketplace.
The purported advantage of lycopene (responsible for the deep red color) was touted as an anti-oxidant, a molecule which wipes out free radicals that cause cancer in people. Tomatoes are a excellent source of lycopene and several studies have confirmed that those who consume tomato products appear to have a decline 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 vegetables and fruits as a source of vitamin A and 13th in vitamin C.
Clearly the tomato is the single most important fruit or vegetable from the western diet concerning a source of minerals and vitamins.
Not bad for a product that has been regarded as hazardous to public health by many before the late 1800s.