Fruit or vegetable? We’ve ‘bean’ wrong


MILLIONS of families in the United States of America would’ve celebrated Thanksgiving Day yesterday (Thursday) and accompanying the traditional turkey among the trimmings would be a substantial amount of green beans.

The humble green bean has always been – no pun intended – considered by gardeners and farmers across the world as a vegetable…but no longer.  And the blame for this must be laid firmly at the steps of the US Supreme Court

According to the Edible Academy at the New York Botanical garden, green beans are actually considered ‘dried fruit’ unless, that is, they come from cans.

Toby Adams, the director of the Edible Academy, explained, “Fruits are structures that contain seeds, and a green bean is, basically, a pod that has seeds inside of it.” However, while the food is technically a fruit – as well as a legume – it’s still considered a vegetable by many.

That’s because the Supreme Court got involved in a case about tomatoes in 1893, after importers wanted it officially classified as fruit so they could avoid the 10 per cent import tax imposed on vegetables. The court essentially ruled that tomatoes and beans, including green beans, are used in dinner recipes and therefore constitute a vegetable, while fruits are typically used as a dessert.

So, until there is a good green bean pie for dessert, the pod and seed dry fruit will still be called a vegetable.

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