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October 7th 2009

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    The slow process that some describe as civilization, may be summarized by a Supreme Court of the United States decision to call the Tomato a vegetable rather than a fruit.  The court argued a tomato is served with dinner rather than dessert, and it was therefore a vegetable.  In that top down way, a trickle occurred, and those who traded tomato became subject to a duty applied to vegetables, but not to fruits.  And this, whether the evening meal included dessert or not.

    Centuries before, when Tomato entered the kitchens of Europe, top people ate off pewter plates and bottom people ate off wooden plates.  The acid in tomato, some suggest, is supposed to have leached the lead out of pewter plates causing top people to think of Tomato as poisonous.  But, Tomato remained a happy food for bottom people.  Then perhaps when china plate replaced pewter plate, a trickle up occurred.    

 

    

    The US Supreme Court case reflecting the status of a Tomato, is documented.  The radical effect of Tomato on pewter leading to the perception of Tomato as poisonous is less well documented.  More likely Tomato was considered poisonous by some Europeans because it was a foreign and odd looking thing resembling a giant Nightshade.  

    I would argue that the distance between investment in fruit trees and investment in vegetables for the production of food, qualified fruit for a status of duty free.  I say this because bottom people have always been taxed more than top people, and in one way or another always will be.

    In Biology, a Tomato is a perennial.  Under the right conditions a Tomato vine could grace the kitchen door for many years.  And, in the search for bounty, which some consider a more adequate description of that slow process of civilization, this part of a Tomato's character often goes missing.

    Here in Kentucky, climate requires a gardener to treat Tomato as an annual.  Good practice is to consign the corpse of Tomato vines quickly to the fire pit at the end of season, then slowly turn your back.  And Wittgenstein was correct, some things do remain unspoken.

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tim candler

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