Fruit or vegetable? Whatever you call it, the red gold of Italian agriculture is the star of good cooking and healthy eating.
During World Tomato Week at Expo Milano 2015, a conference entitled “The system of research and innovation for tomatoes from production to consumer service” took place.
Many aspects were examined, in particular those relating to innovation: the organisation of the supply chain, agronomy, field testing, technologies for sustainability and traceability and nutritional values.
With regard to this last point, Professor Lorenzo Morelli, Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture of the Catholic University of Piacenza, stressed “the very different approaches in respect of the properties of the tomato in Europe and America”.
In botanical science, the tomato is considered a fruit, while it is consumed and enjoyed as a vegetable. One of the main properties of tomatoes is that they are an antioxidant, but communicating the health benefits in this regard are still a goal to be realised rather than a mission accomplished.
Unlike the US, in Europe information about the health of the food is highly regulated, with the obligation to follow clear scientific guidelines laid down by EFSA, the European Food Authority, based on tests that include studies on humans.
“Although there is a large literature on tomatoes and in particular on the effects of one of its most well-known substances, lycopene, today we need to do a new type of research, with clinical studies that may show the true properties of tomatoes and thus also improve the product,” the professor underlined.
Also taking part in the conference were teachers and experts from the University Federico II of Naples, in collaboration with the Experimental Station for the Food Preserving Industry, the Vittorio Tadini Experimental Farm and the Stuard Experimental Farm.