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Get to know the Tomato!

Whether plucked warm off the vine and eaten right there in the garden, or sliced with Mozzarella and basil or turned into homemade marinara, here are some tomato facts in celebration of America’s favorite vegetable – er – fruit!

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  • The tomato is technically a fruit. Botanically speaking, the seed sac of any plant is a fruit.
  • In 1893, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the tomato was a vegetable (something about avoiding tariffs).
  • Tomatoes originated in South America, not Italy. The name comes from the Aztec word “tomatl”, meaning “swelling fruit”.
  • Tomatoes were brought to Europe in the 1500s by Spanish explorers (eventually starting a whole new chapter of Italian cuisine).
  • The Latin name for the tomato is “lycopersicon lycopersicum, which, I am told, means “wolf peach”.
  • Tomatoes are a member of the poisonous nightshade family, and some sensitive people can’t eat them.
  • There are over 25,000 varieties.
  • An heirloom is a tomato that has been around for generations and is not cross bred.
  • A tomato is at the peak of its nutrition when picked at the end of a sunny day.
  • In 2007, salsa nosed out ketchup in U. S. sales for the first time.
  • Every year on the last Wednesday in August, the city of Bunol, Spain, has its Great Tomato War, where people throw overripe tomatoes at each other for fun.

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