Tomatoes are now eaten freely throughout the world, and their consumption is believed to benefit the heart among other things. Lycopene, one of nature’s most powerful antioxidants, is present in tomatoes, and, especially when tomatoes are cooked, has been found beneficial in preventing prostate cancer. However, other research contradicts this claim.
Though it is botanically a fruit, the tomato is nutritionally categorised as a vegetable. Since ‘vegetable’ is not a botanical term, there is no contradiction in a plant part being a fruit botanically while still being considered a vegetable.
Tomatoes are used extensively in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines, especially Italian ones. The tomato has an acidic property that is used to bring out other flavors. This same acidity makes tomatoes especially easy to preserve in home canning as tomato sauce or paste.
The first to commercially can tomatoes was Harrison Woodhull Crosby in Jamesburg, New Jersey. Tomato juice is often canned and sold as a beverage. Unripe green tomatoes can also be used to make salsa, be breaded and fried, or pickled.
The town of Buñol, Spain, annually celebrates La Tomatina, a festival centered on an enormous tomato fight. Tomatoes are also a popular ‘non-lethal’ throwing weapon in mass protests; and there is a common tradition of throwing rotten tomatoes at bad performers on a stage, although this tradition is more symbolic today. Embracing it for this protest connotation, the Dutch Socialist party adopted the tomato as their logo.
Known for its tomato growth and production, the Mexican state of Sinaloa takes the tomato as its symbol.