March 4, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Everything you’ve been told is a lie.

Including this, because it’s not literally everything. But definitely most of what you’ve been told as a little kid is a lie. That you’ve already figured out.

For example, according to a recent statement by botanists, there is actually no such thing as vegetables.

Some of you guys out there are yelling, “I KNEW it!”

“But how can there be no vegetables?” you’re asking. “I’ve seen them!”

Let’s put it this way: With an apple tree, for example, you can look at it and say, “Well, the point of this tree is obviously to grow apples.” There are apples on the ground for 50 feet around it advertising that the tree is there, and you’re stepping over them and you say, “Boy, either someone dropped an unprecedented number of apples in this one spot or I’m about to come across an apple tree.”

That’s one crucial definition of a fruit: It’s made to come off. A fruit is “the structure that holds seeds and is designed to be easily removed by animals to be dropped and planted elsewhere.”

Well, except for bananas.

But then what are vegetables?

If you define “vegetables” as “produce that tastes good with mayonnaise,” then fine, vegetables exist. But in reality, most vegetables are just the body parts of plants. Celery, for example, is just a stem. Broccoli is the flower of a plant. Lettuce are the leaves of a plant. Asparagus is the stalk. Onions are the bulb. Beets are the root.

Basically, vegetables are just random parts of plants that people figured out were OK to eat, back in a time when people were figuring out which plants they could and couldn’t eat, which we as a society seem to have stopped doing for some reason. It stopped being socially acceptable. Like if someone puts a vegetable on the table that you have not personally seen in a supermarket, you will not eat that vegetable. They have to hide it in their recipe and see what happens to you. See if you call them the next day.

Everyone makes such a big deal: “Did you know that tomatoes are fruits and not veggies?” Nothing is veggies! The whole thing is a scam. Yet we’re led to believe that we have to eat them at every meal. Several times per meal.

Yes, fruits exist. The Torah talks about fruit. But where does the Torah speak of anyone eating any so-called “vegetables”? Marror leaves? There’s no proof that that’s a vegetable. In fact, in context, it sounds like it was a leaf that no one would eat unless they were explicitly told to do so by the Torah. To remember pain.

Your obvious question here, of course, is that if the fruit of the plant is the part that holds the seeds, what about cucumbers and squash, which are also mentioned in the Torah? Those have to be the fruits of their respective plants, right? And the answer is that they are. They’re fruits.

In fact, cucumbers and squash are technically berries, which is a subcategory of fruit. Other berries are peppers, pomegranates, avocadoes, grapes, bananas, tomatoes, eggplants and watermelons.

Basically, by these parameters, an Israeli salad is just a savory fruit salad.

Well, technically, there is one item that’s considered a vegetable, at least in the U.S.—the tomato. At least according to a Supreme Court ruling from 1893 in the case of Nix versus Tomato, in which it was ruled that tomatoes were vegetables for “tax purposes.”

I’m not making this up.

Basically, in 1883, the government was trying to encourage people to buy domestic produce, so the Port Authority of New York put a 10% import tax on all vegetables. Imported from New Jersey, I guess. I don’t know how the Port Authority works.

Anyway, this one importer named Nix wanted to import some tomatoes and not pay the tax, and he was like, “Actually, tomatoes are a fruit, not a vegetable,” and the Port Authority got annoyed and took him to court. What followed was a 10-year legal battle that eventually made it to the Supreme Court, in I think the first major case since slavery.

How did the case go, you ask? Basically, each side brought in produce experts who sat there reading dictionaries at each other. About five dictionaries were consulted for the definitions of “fruit” and “vegetable.” But the case was not closed.

According to a transcript from the legal battle, “The defendant’s counsel then read in evidence from Webster’s Dictionary the definitions of the words ‘pea,’ ‘eggplant,’ ‘cucumber,’ ‘squash’ and ‘pepper.’

“The plaintiff then read in evidence from Webster’s and Worcester’s dictionaries the definitions of ‘potato,’ ‘turnip,’ ‘parsnip,’ ‘cauliflower,’ ‘cabbage,’ ‘carrot’ and ‘bean.’”

The Supreme Court is very exciting, you guys.

Basically, the court’s decision was to distinguish between science and everyday life. They said that even though scientifically, it’s a fruit, it was being transported for everyday consumers, not scientists, and:

  1. If you can put it on your pizza, it’s not a fruit.
  2. If people would get upset if you served it for dessert, it’s not a fruit.

So since dina d’malchusa dina, then tomatoes—which are the one thing that we knew coming into this article were actually fruit—are the only actual vegetable. In fact, it’s the state vegetable of New Jersey. Though how can any state have a state vegetable if there are no vegetables? Yet 13 states have official state vegetables, though in most of them it’s either onions or potatoes.

So basically, all this vegetable thing is some good piece of trivia to pull out at parties if you want people to stop talking to you. So it’s good to know.


Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia and other magazines. He has also published eight books and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].

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