The History of the Tomato and Other Fun Facts

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Like all good historical events, the emergence of the tomato as a food source has its share of detractors, critics and fans. It seems that the tomato has not always enjoyed such a lofty place in the food chain, at one time thought to be poisonous, and then thought to be an ill-gotten fruit of love, and then the subject of a Supreme Court ruling that changed its reputation, and its culinary uses, forever.

Back to the beginning...the tomato plant originated in South and Central America where not only did they eat it, they revered it as an aphrodisiac. Wild tomatoes can still be found in the Andes and the tomato, as we know it today, is thought to have first originated in Peru.

Enter the Spanish explorers, who may or may not have known of its reputation as a libido booster, but who thought enough of this fruit (or vegetable) to bring it back to Europe. And no, we in the U.S. did not find the tomato south of our borders; we, in fact, learned of the tomato when our European ancestors traveled across the ocean with it, where it had already been in wide use, its culinary value being cataloged in a mid 16th century Nepalese cookbook. And I always thought it was Italian!

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