Have fun! Enjoy these tomato facts and bits of interesting tomato trivia. You’ll get the dirt on who grows tomatoes, eating tomatoes – even tomato festivals.
American habits. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans eat between 22- 24 pounds of tomatoes per person, per year. (More than half of those munchies are ketchup and tomato sauce.)
Popularity. The tomato is America’s fourth most popular fresh-market vegetable behind potatoes, lettuce, and onions.
Increasing popularity. Americans have increased their tomato consumption 30% over the last 20 years (mostly in processed forms such as sauce, paste, and salsa).
Toxic? While tomatoes are perfectly safe and healthy to eat, their leaves are actually toxic!
How will you take your tomatoes? As of 2007, Americans spend more on salsa than tomato ketchup.
Processed tomatoes. Americans consume three-fourths of their tomatoes in processed form.
The average Joe. 93% American gardening households grow tomatoes.
Fresh tomatoes. Fresh-market tomatoes are grown in all 50 states.
Biggest worldwide producers. The largest worldwide producer of tomatoes is China, followed by USA, Turkey, India and Egypt.
Biggest U.S. producer – processed tomatoes. California produces 96% of the tomatoes processed in the U.S.
Biggest U.S. producer – fresh tomatoes. Florida is the number one producer of fresh market tomatoes (except in 2008).
How it all began. Tomatoes are thought to originate in Peru. The name comes from the Aztec “xitomatl,” which means “plump thing with a navel”.
Love and paradise. When the tomato was introduced to Europe in the 1500s, The French called it “the apple of love.” The Germans called it “the apple of paradise.”
For the wolves? The scientific term for the common tomato is lycopersicon lycopersicum, which mean “wolf peach.”
“Tomato” in other languages
How many kinds? The U.S. Department of Agriculture says there are 25,000 tomato varieties. Other sources cap the number of types of tomatoes at 10,000. (Either way, that’s a lot.)
Tomato cousins. Tomato is a cousin of the eggplant, red pepper, ground cherry, potato, and the highly toxic belladonna (a herbaceous perennial, also known as the nightshade or solanaccae, that has historically been used as both a medicine and poison).
Heaviest tomato. The heaviest tomato on record weighed in at 3.51 kg (7 pounds 12 ounces). A “delicious” variety, it was grown grown by Gordon Graham of Edmond, Oklahoma in 1986. Gordon sliced the tomato to make sandwiches for 21 family members.
Largest plant. The largest tomato plant (a “Sungold” variety), recorded in 2000, reached 19.8 meters (65 feet) in length and was grown by Nutriculture Ltd. of Mawdesley, Lancashire, UK.
Biggest tomato tree. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest tomato tree grows at Walt Disney World Resort’s experimental greenhouse and yields a harvest of more than 32,000 tomatoes and weighs 1,151.84 pounds (522 kg). The plant was discovered in Beijing, China, by Yong Huang, Epcot's manager of agricultural science, who took its seeds and grew them in the experimental greenhouse. Today, the plant produces thousands of golf ball-sized tomatoes that are served at Walt Disney World's restaurants, and can be seen by tourists riding the "Living With the Land" boat ride at the Epcot Center.
Official veggie and official fruit. The tomato serves as both the official state vegetable and the official state fruit of Arkansas, in honor of the South Arkansas Vine Ripe Pink Tomato, sometimes known as “Bradley Pink.”
Official state beverage. Tomato juice is the official state beverage of Ohio.
Under consideration:. A proposal to the NJ State Assembly in 2008 requested that the tomato be adopted as the state’s official state vegetable, but to date the bid has not been passed.
Messiest. La Tomatina (Bũnol, Valencia, Spain), held annually on the last Wednesday in August, attracts tens of thousands of visitors. The highlight is the tomato fight, in which 30,000+ participants throw an estimated 150,000 overripe tomatoes (100 metric tons) at each other.
Most tastings. TomatoFest (Carmel, CA), coined as “America’s Favorite Tomato Festival,” was launched in 1991 and features 350 heirloom tomato variety tastings.
Fast-growing. Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival (Arkansas) was founded in 1954 as a one-day event and now grown to a week-long celebration with dozens of activities from contests to pageants to entertainment, attracting more than 30,000 visitors.
Popularity. At least 19 states hold tomato festivals. Find a tomato festival near you.
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