The Amazing Tomato
The scientific name for the tomato is Lycopersicon lycopersicum, which means, “wolf peach.” Being that a peach is a fruit, we’d like to clear up the confusion and state once and for all, the tomato is a fruit! And what an amazingly versatile and beguiling fruit she is! Firey and fierce in color, tomatoes also pack one heck of a nutritional power punch.
Here’s the lowdown on the tantalizing tomato. Technically a tomato is a fruit, since it is the ripened ovary of a plant. But in 1893 the supreme court ruled in the case of “NIX v. HEDDEN” tomatoes were to be considered vegetables. If you find this hard to believe here is a link to take you to the court ruling:NIX v. HEDDEN, 149 U.S. 304 (1893).
California Tomatoes are the
#1 Provider for All of America
It’s a fact that California produces over 95% of the tomatoes in the United States. This means California tomato growers are producing 2,000,000,000 pounds of tomatoes per week!
Lasting from May to November, California has a long growing season because the growing region stretches all the way from the Southern-most tip of California to the Northern-region of California, providing consumers with fresh field grown flavour 7 months out of the year.
California produces over 95% of the tomatoes in the US
California naturally provides just the right environment for growing tomatoes. Fertile soil, warm days and cooler nights create the perfect setting for growing flavourful tomatoes.
Health Benefits of Tomatoes
Every rule has an exception, and tomatoes are clearly that when it comes to the old saying, “If it tastes good, it must be bad for you.” Recent scientific studies have discovered that tomatoes are not only delicious and versatile, but loaded with health benefits. For instance:
BETTER THAN ONE-A-DAY: Skip the vitamin pill and start your day with a glass of tomato juice: One, four-ounce tomato supplies about one-third of the daily RDA for vitamin C, plus a little beta carotene, potassium, folic acid and other B vitamins, iron and fiber.
FIGHT CANCER, EAT A TOMATO: Lycopene, the ingredient that makes a tomato red, can also make you well. Tomatoes are packed with Lycopene, which is a potent antioxidant and has been shown to prevent cancer.
DOES IT GET ANY BETTER THAN THIS? Lycopene occurs in only a few foods besides tomatoes and since you absorb more lycopene when you eat a little fat with your tomato some olive oil or cheese isn’t such a bad thing after all. Go for it!
PIZZA TO THE RESCUE: Consuming tomatoes, tomato sauce and even pizza twice a week is associated with a slightly reduced risk of prostate cancer. Other research has shown benefits against cervical, stomach and other cancers.
GET HEALTHY! The Lycopene in cooked and processed tomatoes (sauce, paste, salsa, canned tomatoes) is more easily absorbed than in raw tomatoes. Conclusion: let the ketchup flow!
Tomato Fun Facts
- Eating cooked tomatoes may act as a kind of internal sunscreen, according to researchers at the Universities of Manchester and Newcastle, England, by helping block UV rays.
- You can save the seeds from hybrid tomatoes, but you won’t grow tomatoes exactly like the ones you started with. To get identical tomatoes, grow seeds from heirlooms.
- According to the USDA, Americans eat 22-24 pounds of tomatoes per person, per year. About half of that comes in the form of ketchup and tomato sauce.
- A whopping 93% of American gardeners grow tomatoes in their yards.
- It’s thought that tomatoes originated in Peru, where their Aztec name meant, “plump thing with a navel.”
- The world’s largest tomato tree was grown in the experimental greenhouse at Walt Disney World Resort. It produced over 32,000 tomatoes in the first 16 months after it was planted, and holds the record for the most tomatoes in a single year, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
- Research shows that women with the highest intake of tomato-based foods have greater protection against heart disease.
- Tomatoes are also a good source of potassium and vitamin C, which adds to their heart-healthy appeal.
- Cooking tomatoes boosts their heart-healthy qualities by increasing lycopene content. Have them in spaghetti sauce, chili, or soups.