Wed 1 Nov, 2006 09:14 am
In 1883, tariff laws in the United States imposed a duty on vegetables but not on fruits. The question soon arose; is the tomato a fruit or a vegetable? Newspapers raised the question: Should the government tax tomatos? The Department of Agriculture argued the point; botanists too. The debate continued for a solid decade. Since the politicans and the scientists could not agree, the legal system would have to decide the tomato's fate. Government lawyers hauled the tomato into the Supreme Court. In 1993, the nine Supremes, in a case known as Nix v Hedden, classified the tomato as a vegetable using the definitive proof the fact that people eat tomatoes with their main course and not with, or as, their dessert.
One hundred years later, in a attempt to justify President Reagan's drastic cuts in the school lunch program, the Chairman of theUnited States Department of Agriculture, citing Nix v Hedden, reassured a wary public that the tomato was indeed a vegetable. Reagan's budget cuts had wiped out all the fresh vegetables on school cafeteria menus and parents protested. But since the kids still had ketchup that was good enough for the Gipper.
Kind of nice to know the reasoning behind that one.