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Vegetables: What Are We Really Eating?

By Robert Cox, Colorado State University Cooperative Extension Horticulture Agent

Botanically speaking, a fruit is a fertilized ovary of a flower, containing seeds protected by a fleshy cover. So tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, okra, green beans, squashes, pumpkins and all types of melons are really fruits, although we may refer to them as vegetables.

  • With peas, limas and corn, we are eating the seeds.
  • Root crops include onion, radish, turnip, beets and carrot.
  • Stem crops include asparagus and celery.
  • We eat the leaves of spinach, lettuce, cabbage and Brussels sprouts.
  • We eat the immature flowers of broccoli and cauliflower.


Photograph courtesy of Judy Sedbrook.

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Date last revised: 01/05/2010