Monday, September 27, 2010

The Tomato - From The New World

Some history and facts about tomatoes:

  • Tomatoes are in the same botanical family as tobacco, peppers, potatoes, eggplant and the poisonous plant deadly nightshade.
  • Tomatoes are thought to have originated in South America and Mexico. These wild tomatoes were the size of the modern day cherry tomatoes.
  • The Mayan and other peoples of Central America and Mexico were the first people to domesticate the tomato.
  • Spanish explorers took the tomato from South America and Mexico and introduced it to the Caribbean area and the Philippines. From these areas the tomato moved to the Mediterranean and southeast Asia regions.
  • The tomato is a relatively recent cooking ingredient in Italy. The earliest record of tomato use in Italy was in a recipe in a 17th century cookbook.
  • The tomato was first grown in England in the last decade of the 16th century. It was considered poisonous and used only as a table decoration until the early 1700's.
  • Tomatoes were also considered poisonous in early America, even though Thomas Jefferson ate them in Paris, brought back seeds and grew them in his garden.
  • Tomatoes are a very healthy food. Studies have shown that a diet including tomatoes can reduce the risk of heart problems, reduce the risk of prostate disease, good for pancreatic health, colon health, antioxidant and cancer prevention qualities.
  • There were over 130 million tons of tomatoes produced in 2005. China is the largest producer of tomatoes and accounts for 25% of total world production.
  • The tomato is technically a fruit, more specifically a berry. It is used more as a vegetable because it does not have the sweet flavor usually associated with fruits.
  • The record for the heaviest tomato grown is 7 ponds, 12 ounces grown in Oklahoma in 1986.
  • The largest tomato plant on record is one that reached 65 feet in length, grown in England in 2000.
  • The fruit of the tomato comes in a rainbow of colors. Red, pink, green, purple, yellow, orange, even a white tomato.
  • The Campbell Soup Company introduced their canned Tomato Soup in 1897 and it has been one of their biggest sellers ever since.
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