What’s the difference between a fruit and a vegetable?

Vegetable specialist Dr. Timothy Coolong of the University of Georgia's College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences wants to clear up any uncertainties about the differences between fruits and vegetables. He stated: "Scientifically, a vegetable is the edible part of a herbaceous plant, which could be a leaf (lettuce), root (carrot), bulb (onion garlic), and so on. A fruit is considered a mature ovary of a plant, so anything like a tomato, zucchini, bell pepper, cantaloupe, etc. would be a fruit. From a very strict botanical definition, a vegetable would more or less be edible parts of non-woody plants such as lettuce or celery. Still, fruits such as tomatoes are usually treated as vegetables."

The issue is that fruits and vegetables are terms that broadly work but have exceptions. With fruits, for example, you eat the part of the plant that contains seeds. This is why tomatoes are fruits as are pumpkins and peppers. Basically eating everything else from the unbloomed flowers of cauliflower, the leaves of kale, to the shoots of asparagus is classified as eating vegetables.

However, some fruits aren't technically fruits. As strawberry seeds are in the fleshy bits on the outside, scientifically speaking the majority of the berry is not a fruit.

These are all the scientific terms for classification, however. As Coolong explains, fruit and vegetable specialists tend to ignore the botanical class in favor of how the plants actually grow. "We probably treat a lot of things that are botanically fruit as vegetables, because of the growing systems we use. A tomato is most certainly a fruit, but in just about every state the vegetable specialist would be working with tomatoes and not the fruit specialist."  It's similar for consumers when it comes to buying fruits and vegetables.

Source: mashed.com


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