Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Vegetable or Fruit, why have this distinction?

 What I blame for our obsession to give distinction between the two is the food guide, though I'm sure there has been a desire for some distinction prior to the 1940's

Canada's Food Guide separates food into 4 categories: Fruit and Vegetables, Milk and alternatives, Grains and Meat and Alternatives. When I was a child I recall it was worded somewhat differently but was essentially the same guide and the Fruits and Vegetables was still under that label.

Of course, being considered the same, it should not matter what the difference is between a fruit and a vegetable, which again is a foolish argument to start with.

Essentially, the group we are looking at is the: Herb (which includes all leaf and stalk), Root (which covers bulbs, tubers and so on) and Fruit (which covers fruiting bodies) section. One could also include fungus, but due to it's lower nutritional value, I'm not sure how to include it, though I would stick it in this section under a cookery point of view. Legumes and other seeds are sectioned under Meat and Alternatives, but could also be included here when defining cookery as well as some nutritional values.

Simply put, what I'm getting at is how "Fruit" is really not distinctive from "Vegetable". Furthermore, the age old "is a tomato a fruit or vegetable" argument is equally as ludicrous. It is a fruit, so are squash, cucumbers, gourds, eggplant, tomatillo... and maize (corn) is a grain, hence the name "corn". Even the distinction of a fruit being cooked as a vegetable looses ground as I've seen various tree fruit and berries regularly cooked as vegetables in both historic and modern cookery. It would just be nice to let the distinction go.


Cathy Raymond said...

I've always seen the popular "distinction" between vegetable and fruit, not as a meaningful biological category but as a clue to where the item sits on the taste scale. "Fruits" in the popular sense, are almost always obviously sweet (the avocado is the only exception that comes to mind); "Vegetables" such as tomatoes are not.

Mandy Poirier-Kratz said...

In historic cookery, this could be blurred... that is, it's purpose where a potato pie can be very sweet and "fruity" or pears cooked more like a vegetable, though some baking pears are not overly sweet.