You say Toe-ma-to and I say To-MAT o, but whatever-once again they are being launched TOMORROW
I am a Tomato Maniac, I have deep seated problems and every Spring I start so many seeds that our house looks like a nursery, I know I am an addict to tomatoes, I grow over 100 heirloom tomato varities a year. I started a list for those who love tomatoes and also suffer from this all too common addition, we are TomatoManiacs. I started this list for other TomatoManiacs to have a place to share thoughts obn the Love Apple and trade seeds and stories.
Now this list TomatoMania@yahoogroups.com has close to 2000 members world wide including many of the the world's leading tomato experts. Don't laugh-did you know tomatoes are the #1 favourite and most eaten veggie/fruit in the world? Ah yes it is declared a veggie, but by definition is a fruit. Surely I digress - the historic vote that made the tomato a fruit back in the 1800:
The United States Congress passed the Tariff Act of 1883, a rather innocuous piece of legislation requiring a 10% tax on imported vegetables, in response to growing international trade. Just a few short years later, a tomato importer evaluated the law closely, and decided to challenge it on the botanical grounds that a tomato was in fact technically a fruit, not a vegetable, and should therefore be exempt from said tax. John Nix's case posed merit enough to land the case before the Supreme Court in 1893. In Nix vs Hedden, 149 U.S. 304 (1893), Justice Gray wrote, "Botanically speaking, tomatoes are fruits of a vine, just as are cucumbers, squashes, beans, and peas. But in the common language of the people...all these are vegetables, which are grown in kitchen gardens, and which, whether eaten cooked or raw, are, like potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, beets, cauliflower, cabbage, celery and lettuce, usually served at dinner in, with or after the soup, fish or meats which constitute the principal part of the repast, and not, like fruits generally, as dessert ." The court rejected the botanical truth that the tomato is in fact a monstrously sized berry, and deferred to the culinary vernacular of vegetable to describe it. Thus is tax yet paid on imported tomatoes.
OK so now why am I talking about tomatoes:
As noted in a recent news item from North Carolina State University, Raleigh, when the next Space Shuttle Endeavor mission begins, it will contain tomato plants from a local school. Endeavor is slated to blast off from Cape Canaveral, FL tomorrow evening. This is the first Endeavor mission in five years.
The seeds are heading for the International Space Station. “We’re sending up tomato plants,” says Chris Brown, Ph.D., professor of plant biology, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and director of space programs for the Kenan Institute for Engineering, Technology and Science. “These are transgenic tomato plants that are modified such that the signaling pathway related to how they respond to gravity was altered.”
Once on the International Space Station, the seeds will grow in specially designed chambers. Scientists will cultivate similar seeds on earth to serve as a comparison. Images of space tomatoes will be available on a website designed at North Carolina State University to teach elementary school students about science and space.
Researchers at the school genetically altered the seeds so the plants produce less inositol triphosphate (IP3), which Brown describes as “an important signaling molecule in the gravity response” of plants. IP3 helps tell the plant which way is up so that the roots grow down. The transgenic tomatoes should produce less IP3, thereby affecting their response to gravity. He notes that IP3 levels may also affect the plants’ drought tolerance.
The ability to grow plants in space is considered an important factor in manned long-term space travel or colonization. If scientists better understand how plants respond to gravity, it may be possible to use genetic-alteration techniques to help the plants adapt to life in space.
We had some seeds in our seed bank after the last tomato space voyace, perhaps again we will have some. You see we have well over 1400 seeds in our seed bank. Tomatoes have always been such a part of history!