Saturday, July 12, 2014

Mind-Blowing Fact Of The Day - Why Tomatoes Were Thought To Be Poisonous ...

Discovered this fact on a random site now lost to the ether.

It's well known that tomatoes are from the Nightshade family, and thus needed to be viewed with suspicion when they first came to Europe from the Americas about 1500.

Many people became ill eating them - despite the fact that native Americans had been eating loads of them for centuries. It's only recently that scientists and historians have realised the reasons behind these illnesses - and it's not the tomatoes.

The reason is this: American natives ate tomatoes with their hands. In Europe, tomatoes were a luxury, afforded by the very few, who tended - and this is important - to use plates. Pewter plates. Actually, pewter plates with a quite high lead content.

Add a foodstuff with a relatively high acid content - like a tomato - and some of that lead leeched into the food, causing illness, and sometimes death. Hence, poor, innocent tomatoes were viewed with suspicion for 400 years until they were actually proven safe.

Actually, red tomatoes were initially a rarity in Europe, they wouldn't ripen properly as the varieties brought over from South American were always yellow in color, hence the italian name pomodoro - from 'pomi d’oro' - 'golden apple'.

And yes, of course, tomatoes are botanically, a fruit, as are green beans, aubergines, cucumbers, courgettes and all squashes such as pumpkins. Except not. Legally, they are all actually a vegetable under US and EU law, for food distribution and storage legislation purposes. So there.