Whether you enjoy tomatoes fresh in a salad, or roasted and blended in a hearty, rustic pasta sauce, the question remains, are they edible?

Tomatoes can be a very healthy addition to your diet, and health experts have long touted the benefits of the tart and juicy ingredient. Culinarily considered a vegetable, but botanically a fruit, whether or not tomatoes can be considered safe to eat has long been a mystery.

We all know that tomatoes are a delicious and versatile component of many timeless dishes, such as a simple but tasty caprese salad, but the jury is still out on whether or not they are edible. Alternate slices of organic heirloom roma tomatoes, chunks of fresh buffalo mozzarella, and fresh basil leaves. After plating, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste, you’ll be rewarded with a savory and rustic treat. But is this treat safe to eat and share with your guests?

Do a little research and you’ll be stunned at how just controversial the tomato issue has become. From celebrity chefs to botanists and food scientists, experts on both side of the debate have highly convincing arguments. Some say that a fire-roasted beefsteak tomato and guajillo chile salsa is a perfectly fine complement to fresh tortilla chips or tacos, while others insist that a quinoa and goat cheese stuffed purple cherokee tomato is a death wish for you and your dinner party.

Bottom line? When it comes to tomatoes and whether or not they can be responsibly consumed as food by humans, well, we’re honestly just not sure.

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