Fruit or Vegetable?


Cereal grains are botanically fruits, more specifically caryopses. Assumedly, you don't know what those are, which is fine. "Grain" is the more common and intuitive term for the same thing anyway. They're the "seeds" from grasses.

While grains fall under the botanical definition of "fruit," they are clearly not fruits culinarily. While you may see corn pudding or rice pudding, those are desserts in spite of the grains, not because of them. You would never chow down on some raw barley for a sweet snack.

Interestingly, they also would fit the definition of vegetables. However, they are usually considered to be separate. I think this is a reasonable separation to make. Nutritionally, cereal grains are usually much higher in carbohydrates, protein, and fiber but lower in vitamins and minerals. Grains are often ground up and made into bread or something, while vegetables are eaten in any way but that. Grains are dried, enabling them to keep for long periods of time, while vegetables either have to be eaten quickly or preserved by something like pickling.

I think the biggest different is how much people eat of each. Wheat, corn, and rice make up a humongous portion of the world's diet and have about as long as man has existed. "Vegetable" becomes kind of a pointless term if it includes everything you eat, so it would make sense to break the main boring staple of that out into its own category, especially since it is so different in other ways.

List of Grains