Tomato Plants; Trivia and History

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Tomato plants have an interesting history. They are one of the few non-poisonous members of the nightshade family along with potatoes and eggplant and are really a fruit rather than vegetable which makes a tomato a rather large berry. tomato plants,tomato growing

The tomato is believed to have originated in Peru based on the theory that the part of the world with most tomato relatives and similar genetic offshoots is probably where it came from.

It is thought to have migrated to Central America through trade over the course of thousands of years where it was first discovered by 16th century European explorers in the hands of the Aztecs.

In fact, the word 'tomato' came from the Nahuatl Aztec word, 'tomatl'. Soon after it was brought back to Spain it became a kitchen staple throughout Southern Europe but was not easily accepted into Germany or England. The Germans felt that it resembled the 'wolf peach', another member of the nightshade family believed to be used by witches to create werwolves and the English thought it to be poisonous.

In fact, the leaves of tomato vine are poisonous but this idea was more likely due to accumulated lead poisoning from the dishes the rich ate from that somehow became associated with tomatoes. The poor never seemed to have a problem with the tomato and they ate from wooden dishware.

This belief of the poisonous qualities of the tomato persisted so the tomato was never really eaten by early American colonists. In fact there is an uncoroborated account of a person attempting to commit suicide by eating a bushel of tomatoes in front of the Boston courthouse in 1820. It attracted a rather large crowd of on-lookers who were rather surprised that the poor soul did not die...

In any event, the tomato has come a long, long way and is one of my favorite vegetables.


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