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Is a Tomato a Fruit or a Vegetable?

3 February 2013 3 Comments

When it’s locally grown, it not only tastes better, but also supports the lives of many in the community. Mr. Mick Fleming holds his hand out and displays the seeds he has picked up from the Chaa Creek Maya Farm on the 365-hectare private reserve in western Belize. Mr. Mick, his wife Lucy and their Maya Farm staff have been farming on this land on and off for over 30 years.

Every living thing has a life story, and the life story of a tomato can be very different depending on where they are grown and for what purpose. The biggest differences between a tomato grown on the Maya Farm and a tomato that is imported is the quality of the nutrition and taste it provides to our guests, the consumer. We do our very best to produce the most natural tomatoes you can find in our area!

The Aztecs and ancient Maya of Mesoamerica used the fruit in their cooking. The exact date of domestication is unknown but  by 500BC, it was already being cultivated in southern Mexico and Belize. The pueblo people are thought to have believed that those who witnessed the ingestion of tomato seeds were blessed with powers of divination. The large, lumpy tomato, a mutation from a smoother, smaller fruit, originated in Mesoamerica, and may be the direct ancestor of some modern cultivated tomatoes.

Tomato is a MUST have ingredient in tomato pasta sauce, tomatoes helps lend a sour tang to various cuisines around the world and is a fruit that can be eaten raw. Tomato refers to the plant (Solanum Lycopersicum) and the fruit that it bears. Tomato is a fruit but is commonly mistaken for a vegetable as it is used among other vegetables in the culinary sense.

Tomatoes are a rich source of lycopene, carotenoid and phytonutrient found in red fruits and vegetables such as pink grapefruits, watermelons and papayas. It is the compound that is responsible for the red color in these foods. Numerous studies have shown that eating lycopene-rich foods can result in positive health benefits.

Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that can help protect against degenerative diseases. It does this by neutralizing free radicals in the body. Lycopene may help prevent DNA damage in the cells to function better. High levels of lycopene, in the blood and fatty tissues, correlate with reduced risk of cancer, heart disease and macular degeneration. The human body cannot produce lycopene so it must be obtained from food sources.

The fruit is consumed in many ways and can be used in sauces, roasted, fried, sautéed, added to soups and also used in drinks. The tomato belongs to the nightshade family. The plants typically grow 1-3 metres in height with a weak stem that often sprawls over the ground and vines over the other plants.

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