Fish Out of Water

Musings and observations about life from an East Coast native now living on the Left Coast in the California State Capitol since 2004. This fish has made her home in Madison, WI (7 years); Portland, OR (2 years); Las Vegas, NV (7 months); Middlebury, VT (3 summers); Marne-la-Vallee, a small town east of Paris, France (6 months); Middletown, CT (3 years); and Marshfield, MA, the fish's coastal hometown 40 miles south of Boston (17 years).

Location: Sacramento, California, United States


Day 323: Fruits vs. Vegetables

For some reason, Mr. E and I started talking about the "official" difference between fruits and vegetables tonight when we went out to The Press for drinks and snacks. I think it came from musings about what to eat when we got home and Mr. E's insistence that I have some sort of green vegetable and my pointing out that I could have celery and had already eaten some avocado for lunch as part of a summer roll from Safeway. That got us into the debate about whether an avocado is a fruit or vegetable, and I figured it might be the former, since it's got a pit, and perhaps anything with a pit or seeds qualifies technically as a fruit rather than a veggie (e.g. tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, etc.).

So of course we then decided that we needed to learn about the true difference between fruits and vegetables, and I found this very helpful explanation and diagram on

Botanically speaking, a fruit is a seed-bearing structure that develops from the ovary of a flowering plant, whereas vegetables are all other plant parts, such as roots, leaves and stems. By those standards, seedy outgrowths such as apples, squash and, yes, tomatoes are all fruits, while roots such as beets, potatoes and turnips, leaves such as spinach, kale and lettuce, and stems such as celery and broccoli are all vegetables. 

The outlook is quite different in culinary terms, however. A lot of foods that are (botanically speaking) fruits, but which are savory rather than sweet, are typically considered vegetables by chefs. This includes such botanical fruits as eggplants, bell peppers and tomatoes.

Fascinating! I think this means that cucumbers are a "botanical" fruit even though most folks would consider them a vegetable. So really, it would make much more sense to refer to fresh produce in categories of "savory" or "sweet" rather than vegetable or fruit!


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