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How are Fruits and Vegetables Different?

How Does a Fruit Differ from a Vegetable?

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The answer to this question may have been simpler if only the conflict between botanists and the grocery business had not arisen. Botanically speaking, a fruit is a plant’s ovary and therefore contains seeds while a vegetable is simply a plant part that does not have any seeds. There are some vegetables, though, that are being used for reproduction of plants.

Most of us associate sweet taste with fruits, which is why we say that cherries, apples and apricots are fruits. But botanically speaking, pumpkins, cucumbers and tomatoes are also considered fruits because they have seeds but in the grocery, they fall under the category of vegetables. The grocery business pioneered this differentiation of fruits and vegetables as to whether they are sweet or savory, identifying the former as fruits and the latter as vegetables.

Technically speaking, vegetables are simply plant parts such as roots, stems, leaves or flowers. For example, a cauliflower is a flower, celery is a stem or stalk and a carrot is a root and all these three are considered vegetables. Potatoes are considered tubers. These are specially structured plant parts that serve as nutrient depository for the plant aside from having the ability to be able to reproduce into new plants. Cabbage, spinach and lettuce are examples of leafy vegetables that we are familiar with.

Therefore the general rule is, if a plant has seeds, it is a fruit; if it does not, then it is a vegetable. However, there are exceptions to this rule. Nuts, for instance, are technically considered fruits because they are the ovaries of a plant. Rather than eating the fleshy part surrounding the seed, we eat the seed itself. Grains are also classified as fruits since they are just oversized seeds.

Because of its inaccuracy and the confusion it can bring, some botanists are not really fond of using the word “vegetable”. However, it will take a long time to undo what the grocery industry has done and therefore we all have to get used to the term “fruits and vegetables” to come up when talking about produce.

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