Tomatoes are Poisonous!

That was the belief in 18th Century Europe. Although there were many cultures around the world already enjoying this funny fruit vegetable thing, the experience in Europe was that aristocrats were dropping dead after eating it. What the observers did not understand was that the cause of them getting sick and dying was not the little “love apple” per se; rather, it was the acid of the tomato leaching the lead from the pewter plates that the fancy folks had causing the sickness. This misconception, and the fact that the tomato is classified as a nightshade, would keep it off many tables for a long time.

Not eating what was good because of misinformation is an unfortunate bit of history from which we can do nothing but learn. That is not the only lesson for us today. Just as our ancestors thought something good was bad, and did not eat it, we are as ready to think something is good that is not. Take for instance an organic whole grain cereal I have seen. It’s fortified with vitamins and has high fiber. It sounds good. How can that be bad? The problem with this particular cereal was revealed in the first ingredient, which is organic cane sugar. The first ingredient. Sugar. You might as well eat a Pop Tart and take a spoonful of Metamucil.

Things are not always what they seem. The cereal maker did not lie. There was slightly higher fiber than most breakfast cereals. Whole grains were incorporated. The sugar was organic. The problem is that the majority of the box pointed to the benefits, while only the required labeling told the whole story, in a much smaller font. The point of it all is this: don’t rely on the fancy packaging or someone else’s word; don’t throw out the tomato when the plate is poisoning you.

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