The Terrific Tomato – A fruit or a vegetable?

The botanists call it a fruit—the U.S. Supreme Court calls it a vegetable.

Whether fruit or vegetable, you can always find some of these dynamos in my refrigerator.

No matter what you call it, this product of nature packs a powerful punch when it comes to nutrition. Loaded with antioxidants, phytonutrients, and a host of other vitamins and minerals. With less than ten percent of its calories from fat, it also contains a little protein along with a healthy dose of the health-promoting carbohydrates.

And along with thousands of other whole plants, the terrific tomato is being used to reverse heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. So why are they trying to change it? Because there’s a consortium of scientists from 14 countries that think they can make it better. The New York Times reported earlier this week (See link below) that those scientists had decoded the full genome of the tomato—finding that it possesses almost 32,000 genes—far more than humans. From the article:

A consortium of plant geneticists from 14 countries has spent nine years decoding the tomato genome in the hope of breeding better ones. The scientists sequenced the genomes of both Heinz 1706, a variety used to make ketchup, and the tomato’s closest wild relative, Solanum pimpinellifolium, which lives in the highlands of Peru, where the tomato’s ancestors originated. Their results were published online Wednesday in the journal Nature.

My question is this? Why are so many people spending so much money to try to improve on a product that is working so well already? And why are so few scientists producing studies aimed at better understanding how whole plants protect us against cancer, heart disease and a host of other chronic diseases?

MONEY. The answer all boils down to money, which is why our schools of nutrition are controlled by the food industry and our schools of medicine by the pharmaceutical industry. Then, there’s the head of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Francis Collins, who sees the future of health care in the realm of the complex human genome—rather than the simple world of leveraging current nutritional knowledge to lower our cost of health care by some $2 trillion.

Looking for clarity over confusion, read the works of Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr. — Bill Clinton did and it probably saved his life.

Why are more of our scientists and medical doctors not talking about the miracle of reversing heart disease with current information? Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn of the Cleveland Clinic has a near 100% success rate in reversing our nation’s number one killer and he’s simply using whole plants that are available today—including the terrific tomato.

Amazing stuff to be sure—but not deemed worthy of much ink in the New York Times or the evening news of any of the major networks. Meanwhile, we’re spending our time and money and featuring news stories about an obscure project involving tomato genetics. Maybe improving that tomato could be a good thing—-but is it more important than sharing life-saving information with billions of people every day? That is the question. Back to the article; the beat goes on…

Plant breeders have had more success breeding tomatoes with features of interest to producers, like long shelf life, than with the traits that matter to consumers, like taste and quality, Dr. Giovannoni said. The tomato genome sequence may help redress the balance, since plant breeders can now rely on DNA as well as physical traits to govern their breeding programs, he said.

For your convenience, I have provided a link to the full NY Times article along with a link to several of my disease-reversing blogs promoting current knowledge:

The bottom line. While our scientists are studying 32,000 genes in the tomato looking for answers, the good news is that you can take charge of your health today. I wonder how many of those scientists are eating anywhere near the 4Leaf level. My guess is that most of them are eating the toxic western diet—three meals a day.

Handy 3-piece take-charge-of-your-health kit—from

Want to find out how healthy your family is eating? Take our free 4Leaf Diagnostic Survey. It takes less than five minutes and you can score it yourself. After taking the survey, please give me your feedback as it will be helpful in the development of our future 4Leaf app for smartphones. Send feedback to

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J. Morris Hicks, working daily to promote health, hope and harmony on planet Earth.

For help in your own quest to take charge of your health, you might find some useful information at our 4Leaf page or some great recipes at Lisa’s 4Leaf Kitchen.

Got a question? Let me hear from you at Or give me a call on my cell at 917-399-9700.

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Blogging daily at…from the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.

—J. Morris Hicks, board member, T. Colin Campbell Foundation

About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
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3 Responses to The Terrific Tomato – A fruit or a vegetable?

  1. A favorite every day, often snack for my family —> is the grape tomatoes from Costco!

    Jim — while you are posting about the foods available — have you pointed readers to the 2008 movie/DVD “FOOD, INC”? I just re-watched it and it is terrific in “looking behind the curtain” covering our manufactured foods.

    Food, Inc. website:

  2. Jean Myers says:

    A quick-fix strategy for hypertension called renal denervation was reported on in my local newspaper recently. A catheter is threaded up the groin into the kidney to zap nerves causing hypertension – yikes!! All you have to do is eat a plant-based diet and no hypertension – but no money to be made either 😦

  3. John Benjamin Sciarra says:

    According to the New York Times (May 30, 2012) The tomato has “…some 7,000 [genes] more than that of a person, and presents a complex puzzle to scientists who hope to understand its secrets.” Maybe that’s why manyscientists have so much trouble understanding the validity of the whole foods, plant-based diet?

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