The Tomato Had To Go Abroad To Make Good

Posted on February 11, 2008 

The Tomato Had To Go Abroad To Make Good

0ne of the strangest things about the history of the tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum) is the fact that, although it is of American origin, it was unknown as food in this country until long after it was commonly eaten in Europe. Until hardly more than a hundred years ago it was generally thought to be poisonous in the United States. Long before it was considered here as fit to eat, it was grown only as an ornamental garden plant, sometimes called “love apple.”

The mistaken idea that tomatoes were poisonous probably arose because the plant belongs to the Nightshade family, of which some species are truly poisonous. The strong, unpleasant odor of the leaves and stems also contributed to the idea that the fruits were unfit for food.

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