- There are more than 4,000 varieties of tomatoes ranging in size, shape, and color.
- Tomatoes are grown in every state in the United States.
- Tomatoes are also the most popular home-grown fruit or vegetable.
- From the Botanist (scientist that studies plants) point of view, the tomato is a fruit. In the 1893 U.S. Supreme Court case of “Nix v. Hedden,” the tomato was declared a vegetable, along with cucumbers, squashes, beans, and peas (all also botanically considered fruit.) This came about as a result of tariff laws in 1887, which imposed a duty on vegetables but not fruits.
- According to the USDA, Americans eat more than 22 pounds of tomatoes each year, more than half of this amount in the form of ketchup and/or tomato sauce.
- At first, tomatoes were used by our European ancestors as tabletop and ornamental plants, since they were widely believed to be poisonous (due to their belonging to the same family of the poisonous plant belladonna).
- Tomatoes are a source of vitamin K and potassium, a good source of vitamin C and A, and are rich in lycopene.
- Lycopene is an antioxidant that may decrease the risk of certain cancers and heart disease and also help to keep the immune system healthy. It cannot be produced in the body so it can only be obtained by eating lycopene-rich foods.
- Cooked tomato products, sauces, and juices contain higher amounts of lycopene than raw tomatoes due to greater concentration (i.e., it takes many cups of raw tomatoes to make one cup of tomato sauce, and thus the lycopene concentration is greater).
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Can’t get enough fruits and veggies? Every month we feature a new fruit or veggie. Get fun facts, recipes, and more!