As a nutrition major, I talk about fruits and vegetables on the daily. So many people ask questions about different foods. However, the hot topic that always seems to turn into a playful argument is whether a tomato is a fruit or a vegetable.
I partially feel like this debate only persists due to comical reasons. Because when do you see a tomato with other fruits such as bananas, apples, and oranges? Order a fruit salad for breakfast? No tomatoes. Going grocery shopping in the fruit section? No tomatoes.
It just doesn't fit. Some people are hardcore tomato-fruit advocates, but I promise you they will never put tomatoes in a fruit salad.
Categories of Vegetables
The categories of vegetables are bulbs, flowers, stems, roots, seeds, leaves, tubers, and fruits. Yeah, that's right. There is a fruit category of vegetables. As you may have guessed, tomatoes fall under that fruit category. So, people get it wrong when they say it is a fruit. Technically, it is a fruit. But that's only because "fruit" is a category of vegetables.
As you can see, there are plenty other vegetables (which no one questions as vegetables) that are classified as fruits. For instance, consider the fact that peppers, pumpkin, squash, and cucumbers are technically fruits. Has anyone ever tried to claim these are fruit? Maybe so, but not as much as the tomato.
This article, explains why the tomato is classified as a fruit. But I wouldn't go as fair as calling it a fruit. Agriculturally and nutritionally, it's classified as a vegetable.
What the Government Says
USDA's MyPlate, lists tomatoes under their "red and orange vegetables" that people should eat on a daily basis. One cup of tomatoes counts as a serving of vegetables. In addition, USDA's Economic Research Service writes that tomatoes are "the Nation's fourth most popular fresh-market vegetable."
As you can see, when it comes to classifying the tomato, the US government has it listed as a vegetable as well.
If you're curious about fruit classifications, those would be berries, citrus fruits, drupes, melons, pomes, and tropical fruits. Berries include things like strawberries and blueberries (obviously). Oranges and grapefruit are examples of citrus fruit. Peaches and nectarines are drupes. Watermelon and cantaloupe are melons. Pomes would include fruits like apples. Finally, tropical fruits cover bananas, coconuts, and mangos.
I don't think a tomato classifies as any of those things.
But go ahead and call tomato a fruit if that is your thing. Just understand you are only partially right, and everyone else who has to do with agricultural and nutrition will probably disagree.