Becky showed me how she'd gotten that one point wrong on an otherwise perfect paper. So I asked her what I thought was the obvious thing -- did your teacher even define what constitutes a fruit and a vegetable to begin with? When she said no, I asked her how her teacher expected these 8-year-olds to know how to correctly classify the thing -- instinct? sixth sense? through some passing comment, since food classification is such a typical lunchtime topic?
Well of course, I had to explain in simple terms how to know what makes a thing a fruit or a vegetable, all the while wondering about the standard of teaching in our schools these days etc etc (in case you don't know -- if the thing has seeds, then scientifically, it is a fruit; fruits are developed from the flower's ovaries or tissues, and are used by the plant to disseminate seeds. The other parts of the plant that you eat are vegetables; interestingly though, I just found in Wiki that "in biological terms, 'vegetable' designates members of the plant kingdom". Which, theoretically, would include tomatoes, no?).
But anyway, I was tickled to find that Becky had posted in her blog about this whole affair -- in veiled, polite terms of course -- and I thought I'd share it with you! Possibly all the kids in her class got more educated by her one post than they might have otherwise (p.s. more pictures from our recent staycation here).
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Here's Molly Mouse and Harland Sheepdog having their breakfast! Molly is telling Harland about the homework she got back from Mrs Roo yesterday. Their class has been studying food groups, she explained, and she had classified tomatoes as a "vegetable" and not a "fruit".
"I don't know why Mrs Roo said it was wrong," Molly told Harland sadly.
"Well, did she explain to you all what exactly a fruit is, and what exactly a vegetable is?" asked Harland.
"No..." Molly replied slowly.
"Then how would you know?" Harland asked.
"I don't know! Maybe it's something we're supposed to just know in our hearts!" Molly said.
"That's just silly," Harland said. "First, you have to know what makes a fruit a fruit, and what makes a vegetable a vegetable. But I can tell you why tomatoes are fruits and not vegetables. My Daddy helps take care of the garden and he knows all about it. He told me that if it has seeds, then it is a fruit. So, tomatoes are fruits. That also makes things like cucumbers, peppers and squash fruit. Of course, we also eat other parts of the plant, like the leaves or stems; those are vegetables".
"But you know," Harland continued, "My Daddy told me that the Supreme Court in a faraway country called the United States ruled that the tomato is a vegetable. They said that only if it was eaten in hand or in a dessert could it be classified as a fruit. Consumers think of tomatoes as vegetables, and that is how they should be legally defined".
"Ooh, you're really smart!" Molly said, impressed. "Thank you for explaining to me! Although I think then that a tomato could be a fruit or a vegetable, depending on if you were talking to a botanist or a chef!"
"You're right!" Harland said, and they both laughed and ate their tomato salad.