AN AMAZING FACT: In 1820, a crowd of curious people gathered around the county courthouse in Salem, New Jersey. The county fair was in progress, and they jostled one another in eager anticipation, for they were about to witness a daring feat. Soon a man appeared on the steps, holding in one hand a piece of poisonous fruit that had been part of the fair’s decorations. As he held it up for them to see, members of the crowd whispered excitedly to one another. “Is he really going to eat it?” some asked in disbelief.
The man was Colonel Robert Gibbon Johnson, and the fruit was a tomato. Returning Spanish conquistadors brought the first tomato seeds from Peru to Italy. Upon arrival, the Italians believed the heart-shaped tomato was an aphrodisiac—thus tomato in Italian, poma amoris, means “love apple.” Love apples were often tokens of courtship. Young men gave them to their girlfriends, who would wear the seeds in sachets around their necks. The fruit was admired for its beauty, but because of its relation to deadly nightshade the tomato was regarded as poison by Americans and no one would dream of eating it.
The crowd gasped in horror as Colonel Johnson deliberately placed the tomato in his mouth and ate it with apparent relish. They waited breathlessly, expecting soon to see him collapse, writhing in dying agony, on the courthouse steps. But nothing happened. Instead, praising the color and texture, he ate a second tomato, explaining that tomatoes were delicious either cooked or raw. He then invited the onlookers to join him in his meal, and a few of the braver ones went forward. Soon they too were relishing the tomatoes’ flavor.
The news rapidly spread, and eventually tomatoes became a widely accepted article of diet, providing a primary source of minerals and vitamins A and C. Today the United States grows about 9 million metric tons of tomatoes yearly and there are more varieties of tomatoes sold than of any other fruit.
The Bible teaches that the devil is a master of deception in convincing people to fear what is good and eat what is bad. But once we taste the goodness of the Lord and learn to trust in Him, He will help us discern between what is bad and what is good. He will be our Guide.
KEY BIBLE TEXTS
O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. Psalms 34:8