Nine of the following have something in common and one does not. Which is the odd one out?
The Random House Unabridged dictionary defines a vegetable as:
1. any plant whose fruit, seeds, roots, tubers, bulbs, stems, leaves, or flower parts are used as food, as the tomato, bean, beet, potato, onion, asparagus, spinach, or cauliflower.
2. the edible part of such a plant, as the tuber of the potato.
3. any member of the vegetable kingdom; plant.
<H2 class=def-header>Definition of VEGETABLE
a : of, relating to, constituting, or growing like plants b : consisting of plants : vegetational
: made from, obtained from, or containing plants or plant products <vegetable soup> <vegetable fat>
: resembling or suggesting a plant (as in inertness or passivity)
neither of which differentiate a fruit from the category.
Yet in Wikipedia we find:
There are at least four definitions relating to fruits and vegetables:
- Fruit (botany): the ovary of a flowering plant (sometimes including accessory structures),
- Fruit (culinary): any edible part of a plant with a sweet flavor,
- Vegetable (culinary): any edible part of a plant with a savory flavor.
- Vegetable (legal): commodities that are taxed as vegetables in a particular jurisdiction
In everyday, grocery-store, culinary language, the words "fruit" and "vegetable" are mutually exclusive; plant products that are called fruit are hardly ever classified as vegetables, and vice-versa. The word "fruit" has a precise botanical meaning (a part that developed from the ovary of a flowering plant), which is considerably different from its culinary meaning, and includes many poisonous fruits. While peaches, plums, and oranges are "fruit" in both senses, many items commonly called "vegetables" — such as eggplants, bell peppers, and tomatoes — are botanically fruits, while the cereals (grains) are both a fruit and a vegetable, as well as some spices like black pepper and chili peppers. Some plant products, such as corn or peas, may be considered to be vegetables only while still unripe.
The question of whether the tomato is a fruit or a vegetable found its way into the United States Supreme Court in 1893. The court ruled unanimously in Nix v. Hedden that a tomato is correctly identified as, and thus taxed as, a vegetable, for the purposes of the Tariff of 1883 on imported produce. The court did acknowledge, however, that, botanically speaking, a tomato is a fruit.
Languages other than English often have categories that can be identified with the common English meanings of "fruit" and "vegetable", but their precise meaning often depends on local culinary traditions. For example, in Brazil the avocado is traditionally consumed with sugar as a dessert or in milkshakes, and hence it is regarded as a culinary fruit; whereas in other countries (including Mexico and the United States) it is used in salads and dips, and hence considered to be a vegetable
It's strange that while dictionaries tout their "description" of the language rather than "prescription", they fail to note the distinction that is customarily (though sloppily) applied.
Of course the common distinction is arbitrary, as leaf vegetables are not singled out as separate from stem vegetables, from bulb vegetables, from tubers.
Posted by Charlie
on 2012-08-16 08:05:40