Wednesday, March 6, 2013

on fruits vs vegetables

Becky was recently asked to classify a bunch of different foods; she came home looking aggrieved, as she always does when she feels she's been wrongly or unfairly graded. "Is the tomato a fruit or a vegetable?" she asked me crossly. "A fruit," I replied, remembering this vaguely from high school biology. She went off, and started asking the same question of the hubs and every other adult she came across. The end result was that most adults considered the tomato a vegetable, but whether they thought it a vegetable or a fruit, all of them didn't know why it was so.

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).

* * * * * * *


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.

17 comments:

Gloria said...

You both handled that so very well. The old tug of war between fruit and vegetable, tomayto tomahto LOL. A tomato by any other name tastes the same...

Airin HeartMade said...

Your are very creative! ^^
Like your blog, so i'm following you ;)
//Airin

Christine Altmiller said...

I am always confused about the tomato...either way, they are yummy!
Your daughter's writing is very very good and mature. She has a wonderful gift of taking what she has learned and explaining it.

Claudia Aguilar said...

My kids prefer fruit over veggies so maybe If I tell them that the tomato is a fruit they'll eat it?? maybe, pretty please??

Katie Frank said...

I guess vegetables won if it goes about me:DD
http://coeursdefoxes.blogspot.com/

Plowing Through Life (Martha) said...

What a great post! Your daughter does not simply accept what she is told. She investigates further, and even questions it. That is wonderful! She's her own person already.

The Domestic Sweetheart said...

SOOO adorable!!

Chelsea St.Pierre said...

Classic moments..........kids totally rick in the way they try to work out how the world works. Beautiful moments that we as parents are so blessed to observe. Tight hugs.

Gina Gao said...

I don't really like vegetables in general, just saying.

www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

Kim (A Very Sweet Blog) said...

i think it is so sad the teacher didn't explain the difference. well, good for her for wanting to know the reason why. that's the only way you'll learn and grow. i can't get over your daughter's blog. that is so awesome! you are to be so commended as a parent. thanks for sharing.
http://www.averysweetblog.com/

Optimistic Existentialist said...

I am still not sure where I stand, but since I am not a tomato fan I suppose it doesn't matter. What I AM a fan of though is this blog :)

Magic Love Crow said...

Well, I love tomatoes, if they are fruits or vegetables ;o) I love Molly mouse and Harland sheepdog ;o) So cute!

Magic Love Crow said...

I forgot to say, good for your daughter to question everything! She is a smart girl ;o)

Stephanie Louise said...

Oh, the old time questions! We should just call it a fruitegable so everyone can be happy. Have a wonderful weekend! :)

Pizziricco said...

umm ... i guess it won't do fyr girl to make her blog known to her teacher huh? joshing just joshing hahaha {:-)

Rowena @ rolala loves said...

This very same subject came up when I was at physical therapy the other day because the patient next to me was reading a book about tomatoes. It's a shame Becky's teacher couldn't have explained it all as well as Harland did. Your daughter handled this well and her blog is adorable :)

Rowena @ rolala loves

Miss Val's Creations said...

Adorable post. This brings me back to the Seinfeld episode when they discussed the tomato being a fruit!!! They talked about how the tomato never caught on as a hand fruit. Too funny!

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