Fun Facts About Tomatoes

Delicious, nutritious find out more about the versatile, intriguing tomato.
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Purple Heirloom Tomato

Purple Heirloom Tomato

Photo by: Image courtesy of Ben Rollins

Image courtesy of Ben Rollins

The simple beauty of a purple heirloom tomato

Slice them for sandwiches, toss them in salads, cook them into sauces or squeeze them for juice: tomatoes are delicious and good for us, packed with vitamins A and C, calcium, potassium, and lycopene. 

Think you know all about tomatoes? Read on, and discover some 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. But eating tomatoes is only a supplement to using sunscreens, they caution, not a replacement.
  • 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.
  • Botanically speaking, a tomato is a fruit. The government classified it as a vegetable in the late 1800s so it could be taxed under custom regulations.
  • 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.
  • China is the number one producer of tomatoes around the world. The U.S. is second.
  • Forget the orange juice. Florida grows more tomatoes than any other state.
  • 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.
  • The scientific name for the tomato is Lycopersicon lycopersicum, which means, “wolf peach.”
  • Colonial American gardeners grew tomatoes for their looks, but were afraid to eat them, perhaps because the plants resembled deadly nightshade.
  • New Jersey calls the tomato its state vegetable. Arkansas uses tomatoes as both the state fruit and the state vegetable.

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