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What part of the plant are you really eating?

Consider this! When we eat our vegetables, we're not just eating vegies but a collection of plant parts -- leaves, stems, flowers, roots, seeds and fruits.

Just love broccoli and cauliflower? It's really the flower stalk and immature flowers you're eating.

How about celery, asparagus and kohlrabi? You're munching on plant stems.

When we eat cabbage, Brussels sprouts, lettuce, spinach, kale and chard, we're chowing down on leaves.

When you pass the onions, carrots, beets, turnips and radishes, it's roots on the menu. Roots, incidentally, are the portions of plants that serve as storage areas for plant foods manufactured by leaves.

What about tomato, eggplant, peppers, okra, squash, cucumber and pumpkin? Would you believe these are the fruits of a plant. These vegies, er fruits, occurred as a result of flower pollination. Within the fleshy covering of the fruit are the plant's seeds.

And, finally, here come our old favorites -- peas, corn, lima and kidney beans, garbanzos and blackeyed peas. They are seeds, every bit as much as sunflower seeds are members of the seed family.

So the next time vegetables are served up, think about it. What part of the plant are you really eating?

Photo: Judy Sedbrook

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Date last revised: 01/05/2010