In The Family
What’s the Difference Between Fruits and Vegetables?

Tomatoes, eggplants, and pumpkins are all fruits. So what even is a vegetable?

Here’s a partial list of common vegetables that are actually fruits. Tomatoes. Eggplants. Every squash and gourd. Even peanuts, beans, and walnuts are technically fruits, because they all fall under the botanical definition of being the edible, seed-bearing ovary part of a plant. (Yes, fruits are ovaries, sorry.) Vegetables, by contrast, don’t really have a scientific definition.

Historically they’re usually defined as edible not-fruit parts of a plant, such as green leaves (romaine and cabbage), flower buds (cauliflower and capers), bulbs (garlic and onions), or roots (carrots and potatoes). Many of those vegetables are instead categorized as the equally hand-wavey term ‘starch,’ but they’re as much one as the other, by which we mean neither category has much botanical rigor behind it.

Also read: When Is It Okay to Cook With Frozen Vegetables?

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Max Falkowitz

Max Falkowitz is a food and travel writer for The New York Times, Saveur, GQ, New York magazine’s Grub Street, and other outlets. He’s also the coauthor of The Dumpling Galaxy Cookbook with Helen You.