Now that it’s fall and pumpkin spice is almost everywhere you can imagine, it’s time to ask a very important question about pumpkins.
Are pumpkins fruits or vegetables? Well, you never know what you’re going to hear being discussed when a group of people gather.
I don’t know how the topic came up, but sure enough, someone had to ask.
And when they found out what the answer was, they weren’t particularly happy about it.
Tomatoes used to be considered vegetables.
When I was a kid, I’m convinced they taught us that tomatoes were vegetables. As most of us know in our enlightened 21st century, tomatoes are indeed fruits.
But back during the Ronald Reagan years, his administration came under fire over school lunches, among other things.
The Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1981 extended spending cuts that affected school lunches but it also gave schools a bit more flexibility. The “Ketchup as a Vegetable Controversy” referred to the fact that the aforementioned flexibility would give schools the ability to count certain foods not typically considered fruits or vegetables as such. The law didn’t mention ketchup being used as a vegetable specifically, but political critics never let facts get in the way of a good tirade.
I remember when the world suddenly came to the realization that tomatoes were actually fruits. It was even more of a shock to the collective system than learning that Pluto wasn’t really a planet. (Though I hear that’s being debated once again.)
Tomatoes aren’t the only fruit that most people would swear are vegetables. That list includes peppers, cucumbers, avocadoes, okra, eggplant and even green peas.
But what about pumpkins?
Have you ever wondered what makes a fruit a fruit and what makes a vegetable a vegetable?
LiveScience.com explains it this way: “a fruit is a seed-bearing structure that develops from the ovary of a flowering plant, whereas vegetables are all other plant parts, such as roots, leaves and stems.”
Naturally, they go into more detail in their article, which you can find here.
They also explain, to save our sanity, that many fruits that are more savory than sweet, are considered vegetables from a culinary — if not botanical — standpoint.
But by the botanical definition, pumpkins are indeed fruits.
Sorry if that rattles your cage the way the tomato issue rattled ours back in the day.
But if really, really aggravates you, just remember: you can take out your frustrations when you carve your jack-o-lantern this year. (Just be careful with that knife!)