The World and Everything in It - July 20, 2021
WORLD Radio - The World and Everything in It - July 20, 2021
Gender and sexuality Ideology indoctrination Illinois; the Cuban church responds to recent political unrest; and WORLD reporters talk about the 2021 Hope Awards finalists. Plus: commentary from Kim Henderson, and the Tuesday morning news.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning!
A push to teach LGBT-approved sex ed curriculum to kids as young as 5 is finally getting the attention of parents.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Also a Roundtable discussion with three WORLD reporters about this year’s Hope Awards for Effective Compassion.
Plus the church in Cuba in time of revolution. We’ll talk to a pastor who is from there.
And the art of growing tomatoes.
REICHARD: It’s Tuesday, July 20th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Good morning!
REICHARD: Up next, Kent Covington with today’s news.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Microsoft Exchange hack caused by China, US and allies say » The Biden administration and Western allies formally blamed China on Monday for a massive hack of Microsoft Exchange email server software.
President Biden said Monday…
BIDEN: My understanding is that the Chinese government, not unlike the Russia government, is not doing this themselves, but are protecting those who are doing it, and may even be accommodating them being able to do it.
Intelligence agencies say Chinese government-affiliated hackers have also targeted victims with ransomware—including in the United States—with demands for millions of dollars.
President Biden said the investigation is ongoing and the United States has not announced any new sanctions against China.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Justice announced charges against four Chinese nationals.
Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California Randy Grossman...
GROSSMAN: The indictment alleges that three of the four defendants were intelligence officers with the Ministry of State Security—or MSS. They implemented the alleged cyber attacks through front companies in order to conceal the government’s role in the illicit scheme.
The European Union and Britain also called out China. The EU said cybercrimes linked to Chinese hacking groups have targeted governments, political organizations, and key industries in the EU.
Biden releases first GITMO prisoner » The Biden administration took a step toward its goal of shutting down the Guantánamo Bay detention center for terror suspects Monday. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has more.
KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: The administration released its first GITMO prisoner. U.S. officials sent Abdullatif Nasser back to his home country of Morocco. The U.S. government detained Nasser 19 years ago, but he was never formally charged.
The Obama administration launched the effort to shut down the detention center in Cuba. But it had trouble resolving the remaining few dozen cases, including finding secure sites to send some of the detainees.
In announcing Nasser's transfer, the Pentagon cited a review board's determination that holding Nasser was no longer necessary for U.S. national security.
Nasser arrived Monday in Morocco. Police took him into custody and said they would investigate him on suspicion of committing terrorist acts.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.
Biden on economy, COVID » Speaking at the White House on Monday, President Biden pushed back against Republican criticism of his massive spending plans.
Democrats are crafting a $3.5 trillion bill with new spending on social services, education and family programs.
That will be in addition to roughly $1 trillion in bipartisan spending on infrastructure.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said the plan is all the more irresponsible in light of rapidly rising costs in America.
MCCONNELL: Essentials like gas and groceries have gotten more and more expensive...
The president acknowledged growing concern over rising inflation, but he said it’s temporary. And argued that trillions in new spending will help.
BIDEN: These steps will enhance our productivity, raising wages without raising prices. That won’t increase inflation. It will take the pressure off of inflation, give a boost to our workforce, which leads to lower prices in the years ahead.
Republicans maintain that massive spending can only make inflation worse.
Democrats intend to push the new spending bill through the Senate using the budget reconciliation process without any GOP votes.
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says he’ll push to advance the bill later this week.
American athlete the latest to test positive for COVID at Olympic Village in Tokyo » More Olympic athletes have tested positive for COVID-19 at the Olympic Village in Tokyo.
Among the latest to test positive was Kara Eaker, an alternate on the U.S. women's gymnastics team. It was a so-called breakthrough infection, as the 18-year-old Eaker was vaccinated two months ago.
A growing list of athletes and others are testing positive ahead of the pandemic-delayed Olympics. Eaker is the first American on that list.
Dr. Brian McCloskey chairs an independent panel of medical experts for the Summer Olympic Games. He told reporters…
MCCLOSKEY: What we’re seeing is what we were expecting to see, essentially. If I thought that all the tests we did were going to be negative, then I wouldn’t bother doing the test in the first place.
The personal coach for both Eaker and fellow Olympic alternate Leanne Wong, confirmed the positive test on Monday. Eaker and Wong are now both isolating.
Largest wildfire in U.S. continues to expand » The nation’s largest wildfire torched more dry forest in Oregon Monday.
Marcus Kauffman is a spokesman with the Oregon Department of Forestry. He said the Bootleg Fire continues to spread.
KAUFFMAN: The eastern edge of the fire has been pretty much growing every day between 5, 10, 30, even 40,000 acres.
The destructive Bootleg Fire is burning in south-central Oregon just north of the California border. It grew this week to an area about the size of Los Angeles.
Firefighters Monday had to retreat from the flames for the ninth consecutive day due to erratic and dangerous fire behavior.
They pulled back as flames jumped containment lines and pushed into new territory.
At least 16 major fires are currently burning in the Pacific Northwest.
I’m Kent Covington.
Straight ahead: ideology lessons in Illinois.
Plus, this year’s Hope Awards finalists.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: It’s Tuesday the 20th of July, 2021. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. First up: sex education in Illinois.
And just a note to parents. This story might not be appropriate for the youngest listeners. So if you have the kids around, you might want to hit pause and come back later.
Last month, the Illinois General Assembly passed a bill requiring comprehensive sex education for students as young as 5 years old. Senate Bill 818 forces Illinois schools to teach sex education in accordance with the National Sex Education Standards—or not at all.
REICHARD: But these national guidelines include some problematic topics, to say the least. WORLD intern Josh Schumacher reports.
JOSH SCHUMACHER, REPORTER: Becky Swan is one of a growing group of parents speaking up at local school board meetings against Senate Bill 818.
SWAN: It sexually grooms young children by introducing sensitive and inappropriate topics, introduces topics many youth would be uncomfortable discussing and is therefore a form of sexual harassment.
The bill requires that the sex education classes taught in Illinois schools—both public and private—conform to the National Sex Education Standards. Those guidelines set requirements for what information teachers in a given grade range must teach their students.
What kind of information does that include?
David Smith is the executive director of the Illinois Family Institute.
SMITH: The National Sex Ed standards would require boys and girls in grades 3-5 to, here's one: Explain common human sexual development including masturbation. Describe the potential role of hormone blockers on young people who identify as transgender. That mind you this is grades three to five...
Smith says the bill builds on previous legislation that required comprehensive sex education for grades 6-12. This new bill extends it all the way to kindergarten. And it says kids should learn to...
SMITH: Define and explain differences between cisgender, transgender, gender non binary gender expansive and gender identity. How about explain the gender expression and gender identity exists along a spectrum and define sexual orientation. Differentiate between sexual orientation and gender identity.
Illinois is the first state to require conformity to the National Sex Education Standards in this way. But two others, Colorado and Washington, adopted similar standards in 2019 and 2020.
Senate Bill 818 creates an all-or-nothing dilemma for Illinois’s schools. Either the schools teach health and sex ed classes in accordance with the national standards, or they don’t teach it at all.
And there’s another thing that conservatives find problematic: The national guidelines could get updated at any time in the future—and likely will. When that happens, Illinois schools will have to start teaching whatever the latest update includes.
Representative Avery Bourne says that means parents will have even less control over what is taught in sex education classrooms.
BOURNE: We are delegating, all authority to an unaccountable national group that could change these standards at any given moment, with no check at the state level or at the school level.
Lawmakers like Representative Marcus Evans who supported the bill say it’s necessary to ensure students get fact-based information.
EVANS: This bill is about keeping our young people safe and healthy by giving them the information to make good decisions and protect themselves. This bill is about arming our students with the information skills from trusted sources to make healthy informed decisions.
But Representative Tony McCombie says that emphasis on safety is redundant. She says kids in Illinois schools already learn those principles.
McCOMBIE: Today, small children are learning about bullying. Today, they are learning what a good touch is, verse, a bad touch. They learn about health and safety. Our children learn about consent.
David Smith with the Illinois Family Institue says the state’s education system has bigger problems to focus on than sex education reform.
SMITH: Mind you, the proficiency rates in English language arts, math, and science, fall way below 50 percent In many of our schools. And so, Johnny and Sally can't read, write or do arithmetic, but they're going to be expected to be able to identify and define what cisgender is. This is kind of ludicrous.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker will have 60 days to sign Senate Bill 818 into law once it arrives at his desk. Smith expects Pritzker will approve the measure, but he still encourages parents to voice their objections.
SMITH: Go to your school boards and ask them to opt out of health classes all together so this garbage is not taught in your communities.
That’s exactly what parents like Becky Swan are doing.
SWAN: Failure to pass a resolution can only mean they agree with the sexualization of young children.
Jeanette Ward is a former school board member for the U-46 School District in Elgin [L-gin], Illinois. She says the grassroots activism against the bill is both encouraging, and a long-needed step in the right direction.
WARD: I actually am heartened by the response that people are actually starting to pay attention. In my time on the school board, I was saddened by the lack of participation by God fearing people so at the very least, I'm heartened that people are starting to pay attention.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Josh Schumacher.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: Christians in Cuba.
Pastor Alexis Pérez left Havana for a visit to the United States one week before protests erupted earlier this month. He watched from Miami as the uprising spread around Cuba and the government tried to silence cries for freedom.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Over the weekend, the communist regime rallied thousands of its supporters—and the dictator Miguel Díaz-Canel—incited mobs to turn against their countrymen.
He gave a televised speech that blamed the United States for the chronic shortages, power outages, and lack of vaccines that provided the spark for the protests.
WORLD’s Onize Ohikere recently spoke to Pastor Pérez about what’s fueling the opposition and how it has affected the church in Cuba.
ONIZE OHIKERE, REPORTER: Pastor Alexis Pérez had no idea when he left home that trouble was brewing.
ALEXIS PEREZ: There has been some kind of movement before that has been trying to work for this to happen in Cuba. I mean, people outside Cuba, like you have Americans in US, and things like that. People were working for that. But what is very unique of this movement that happened just started last Sunday is that it was spontaneous.
But the spark that eventually ignited the protests began burning months ago.
PEREZ: So we were from March to November 2020 with our borders closed. So it means that the economy that it wasn't doing very well at that point, it got worse, very worse. And, you know, we started to have some lack of all kind of basic things to survive.
Then, despite the border closures, the coronavirus started to spread.
PEREZ: So right now we are breaking, like everyday we're breaking the rate before the record of coronavirus cases in Cuba. And some provinces, the health system has collapsed. Plus of that, I mean, like a month ago, they started to do some kind of blackouts in Cuba.
Perez said with temperatures soaring into the 90s, that was the breaking point for many Cubans.
PEREZ: Cuba is a tropical country. So these were in the summer right now. So this is really hard to do it without electricity there. And then I seen that the blackouts were the why, I mean was like the last drop in all these other people just went to the streets looking for freedom asking for many other things.
Following the protests, government forces reportedly arrested at least 100 Cubans, some of them pastors.
PEREZ: That's because they participated in that protest. Though, I don't think that the majority of Christians have been involved in that. So that's why they went out to get those pastors because it means that if a pastor go to the demonstration, it will, I mean, a lot of church members will go too. So I think that the government is afraid that the pastors became leaders, local leaders in the social movement. But I think that Christians have taken a different approach in that way, and not really have been really active protesting against the government.
Perez says church leaders aren’t encouraging protests. But they are speaking out against the government’s attempts to stop them.
PEREZ: I mean, the government, they didn't call to violence in Cuba, they are trying to, I mean, they don't want to send the army to beat the people. So they call Cubans to fight Cubans. Not the army. Or they dress the army in civil clothes, and that send them to pick Cubans. That's pretty normal in Cuba.
Perez says most Christians wouldn’t be sorry to see the government fall, if it comes to that.
PEREZ: Cuban government is not good at churches. So we have been, we have a lot of limitations in Cuba, we have a lot of prosecutions, and things like that in Cuba. So it is difficult to be a Christian in Cuba. We don't have the open persecution that you will see in other places. But the government is always trying to limit what church can do. And they're very hard of that. So I think that most of the Christian they are, they are okay, with what is happening, if this is coming to an end of the government. I will say that. Most of the Christians, because we have been suffering. Though, I think that most of the Christians also in Cuba, we don't think that we should be involved in these kind of violent events and trying to take over a government. So we think that we need to wait on God, pray, be peacemakers. And see what God is going to do.
But Perez says this is new territory for most Christians, including church leaders.
PEREZ: Right now what we are trying to do is to inform our people. We're not used to these kind of things in Cuba. I mean, I'm 50 years old, I have been always living in Cuba. And this is the first time in my life, something like this happened in Cuba. So we are not used to react to this. How, what, how, what would you do? I mean, we're, I mean, we're even figuring out we are praying, we are looking for wisdom, on how to deal with all this, all this. So I think that we need to learn from this. I think the church to be ready for future things will come because I think they will come in the future in things like this. We should be ready for that. I think that the best that we can do right now is I mean, we are figuring out how to react to these how to help people in the middle of this how to be peacemakers how to denounce what to be denounced, like, you know, the government calling to violence between Cubans and things like that. But also be respectful of all the government authority. So this, I think we are learning, think we are learning. I think that the most we are getting right now is that we need to do some preparation, do some study, do some theology on this and be ready for what is coming.
At the end of our conversation, I asked Pastor Perez what the wider church could do for believers in Cuba.
PEREZ: I think we need wisdom. And we need prayer. That's what we need. We also need to be able to help people. For us to be able to keep preaching the gospel in the midst of all these, keep doing the work and helping people.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Onize Ohikere.
NICK EICHER, HOST: A woman in Georgia recently found something under her bed that most people would find unsettling. Some would even call it terrifying.
Trish Wilcher of Augusta, Ga. told television station WJBF...
WILCHER: Before going to bed, I spotted what I thought was a piece of fuzz on the floor, and went to reach for it and it moved.
Yeah, it wasn’t fuzz.
WILCHER: And then a second later another piece moved, and I began hollering for my husband.
And then the hollering provoked more movement.
In total 18 snakes were under that bed!
She went on to explain her husband was able to capture them—momma snake and 17 babies—and relocate them elsewhere, to a creek nearby.
Turns out they were relatively harmless Garter snakes. But still not something you want to find slithering under your bed!
It’s The World and Everything in It.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Tuesday, July 20th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: effective compassion.
Every year, WORLD recognizes a handful of non-profit ministries serving on the front lines of poverty fighting. Those ministries are nominated by WORLD readers and listeners. We call it our annual Hope Awards.
EICHER: As it did seemingly everything, Covid forced us to improvise a bit. We narrowed our emphasis this year to just one region: the West Coast. WORLD sent three experienced reporters to visit seven organizations. After spending time on the ground with founders, volunteers, and the people they help, our team narrowed the list down to four finalists. Each will receive at least some prize money. But you get to choose the organization that gets the $10,000 grand prize. Voting is now open at wng.org/compassion.
REICHARD: This weekend you can hear from each ministry in a special Hope Awards episode of The World and Everything in It. But today, the reporters who worked on this project will tell you about the process.
BONNIE PRITCHETT: I'm Bonnie Pritchett, and I'm just south of Houston, Texas.
SARAH SCHWEINSBERG: I am Sarah Schweinsberg. And I'm in the Salt Lake City, Utah area.
SOPHIA LEE: I'm Sophia Lee, and I live in the great city of Los Angeles.
BONNIE PRITCHETT: Sarah, you and Sophia have done these road trips before for the Hope Awards and got to travel to a lot of different ministries over the years. And both y'all did.
SARAH SCHWEINSBERG: I'll just say we've done Hope Awards visits before, but never together. So this was kind of a first, I think, for each of us to visit ministries with a partner.
PRITCHETT: How did that play out for you—you guys being able to do your jobs?
SARAH SCHWEINSBERG: I was there to report for radio. And so that's very different than reporting for print. So before going into interviews, we did a lot more coordinating—Hey, I'm gonna need to gather sound of this, or I'd like to see this happen, or how are we going to split up questions. You know, it was nice going into it together as well. Because we do come from very different vantage points, experiences, we noticed different things at certain times. And we could come back together and say, What did you hear? I heard this and compare stories that we're hearing. And it just doubles our efforts. And makes it more efficient and broadens the perspectives we gather.
SOPHIA LEE: Yeah, I mean, our aim is the same, to get good facts and details. But because the medium is different. I'm going to be asking a lot more detailed questions to get specific details that I can put into print. Whereas Sarah, sometimes I would look around, she disappeared. And where did she go? She went to get sound. She's chasing the birds. She's chasing the squirrel and the chicken to get the sound. And I think she actually helped me be more aware of that but also I think the hardest thing for me was keeping silent while working with the podcast people.
SARAH SCHWEINSBERG: Yes. And I loved having Sophia there, because she would ask questions that I didn't think of. And as soon as she asked something, I'm like, oh, why didn't I think of that? So it was really fun to learn from her as a reporter, too.
BONNIE PRITCHETT: Sarah, because you've done this for radio and for magazine as well, what are the three elements that make a ministry an effective ministry and therefore a candidate for the Hope Awards?
SARAH SCHWEINSBERG: Three letters, C-P-S. Those three letters stand for challenging, personal, and spiritual. And they were identified by our editor in chief Marvin Olasky, over years of studying poverty fighting and what leads to effective compassion.
Challenging means the ministry doesn't just do handouts, they're not just giving things away. They're asking something of the people, they're helping in return, whether that's their time, following a program, money in some cases, certain behaviors...offering that human dignity of believing in them to give something in return.
And then there is the personal, which means this is not just broad solutions, blanket solutions. This is very tailored for the culture, the specific situation, the neighborhood, the city. It's very adaptable to the specific problem the ministry is trying to address.
And then spiritual. And we don't just mean, you know, talking about broad, vague spiritual concepts. I mean, very specifically, introducing people to Jesus Christ, discipling them and getting them in the word, really holistically approaching their emotions and spiritual and souls, not just their physical circumstances. So that's what we're looking for when we go into the ministries.
BONNIE PRITCHETT: Well, so between the three of us, we went to seven different ministries. Sophia, you're the only one who got to go to all seven, can you kind of give a big picture of what those ministries were and the communities that they were seeking to help?
SOPHIA LEE: One thing I really loved about all these nonprofits that we visited, was that it really started with someone completely ordinary. An ordinary person saw a need in the community, because they live in that community. And they just decided to do something about it. And they started small and then God kept opening doors and things grew out of them seeing a need, and meeting that while living amongst them. And, and I think that was that, that was really striking to me.
BONNIE PRITCHETT: They're just doing what God called them to do right there in that neighborhood and that little community. And it may not seem like it's having an impact on the big stuff that gets on the nightly news. But they keep going because that's what they're called to do. And they're supported by their communities. And they're helping people change their lives. And that's, I mean, just, it's just really encouraging.
SARAH SCHWEINSBERG: I would just add one more thing. What struck me also is that these ministries just throw out the love of God, to anyone who's willing. And when people aren't ready to get help, they're not ready to comply with the program or stick around, they're okay with that, they can leave. But they don't worry about who deserves help or who doesn't. It's just: “you’re human. We love you because Jesus loves you, we're here to help.” So I learned a lot from that people are not projects, they're there to love, and God will take care of the rest.
SOPHIA LEE: Yeah, one thing that was convicting personally for me, is, I think, going to these places reminded me again, that these are human beings made in the image of God.
What I really appreciate it is that these Christian nonprofits go even deeper, they address not just the individual's physical and mental and emotional needs, but the spiritual needs. And that's something that's very lacking and in, in secular nonprofits, that ultimately, it's also a spiritual issue—don't forget that people have a soul too. You can change the behaviors, you can change that person's conditions and income level by this at the end of the day, you also have to change that person's entire being, and by going through death and resurrection in Christ.
BONNIE: So just I guess, what are some closing ideas that y'all have? Or what stuck in your mind about this trip?
SARAH SCHWEINSBERG: Well, I just wanted to play a clip. This is from JoLynn DiGrazia. She is the founder and director of Westside Ministries in Turlock, California.
DIGRAZIA: The biggest challenge is keeping the decision to stay and not leave...I think it's really important that no matter what, we stay here, and we continue to do what God's called us to do, regardless of what happens....So that's what we just try to do is just not ever, ever, ever give up.
These men and women who serve in these communities, they are not going anywhere they stick with it. And that struck me as a young millennial weekend warrior who loves to get around and have independence, just what we're missing out on when we don't go deep in our churches and our communities, getting involved in ministry, building relationships. So I walked away from visiting these ministries just realizing I want more of that in my own life.
SOPHIA LEE: That's awesome. I'm so I just got to be really honest. I think I had allowed cynicism to kind of creep into my heart. So when I was looking at this world, when I was looking at my city, and when I was looking at the body of Christ, all I could see was broken things that needed fixing, things that needed to be repaired...
And then I went on this trip. And what I saw was so humbling, and so convicting. And it basically flushed my cynicism away. And what I saw was ordinary, average Christians, who love Jesus, and who are who are doing the act of loving others, daily in their lives, without any accolades without media attention...Christians being salt and light in this world, Christian changing lives one at a time, one person at a time, one community at a time. And people being transformed by the love of Christ, and by the love of Christians.
I needed to hear that. I needed to see that. Because to be completely honest, I think I was becoming self-righteous, angry, and being on this trip really helped me recover my love for the body of Christ. And it was a moment of just deep humility that God brought me to. So it gave me hope. And ironically, we were doing the Hope Awards, and I needed that hope. You know, that full vision and hope of what the gospel can do.
REICHARD: WORLD’s Sophia Lee, Sarah Schweinsberg, and Bonnie Pritchett.
To learn more about each of the Hope Awards finalists, visit wng.org. And be sure to listen this weekend for our special episode highlighting each organization.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Tuesday, July 20th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Before we go on, let this be your periodic reminder about prerolls.
REICHARD: The daily program introductions you provide. We have such a varied audience and it’s fun to hear all the different voices and accents from different parts of the country, different parts of the world! Doing all kinds of different things.
EICHER: We’ve been doing these for three years now, this month, so we’ve had more than 700 of these. And judging from the feedback, listeners really love hearing them, too.
If you’ve thought about recording one but haven’t, I’d encourage you to send one in and here’s how:
Go to wng.org/podcasts. Click on “The World and Everything in It” and you’ll see a little submenu and that includes “Record a Preroll.” Click on that and you’ll find everything you need to know!
On now to tomatoes.
EICHER: Yep. And if you’ve ever tried to grow your own, you know it’s not as easy as it looks. Here’s Kim Henderson.
KIM HENDERSON, COMMENTATOR: This time of year in my neck of the woods we talk of tomatoes. The subject just comes up as easily as the temperature. “How are your tomatoes doing?'' someone asks. The conversation soon turns to pests and rain conditions and “Did you add lime to your soil?” I can’t bring much to the table, but one thing’s for sure. I’ve got the prettiest tomato plants around.
Their vines are long and lovely, with dainty green tendrils wrapping themselves around stakes like nobody’s business. The stalks top out at a good 8 inches above my head. And the leaves – well, they are clearly outstanding as far as leaves go. Unfurled, symmetrical, bug-free. So, what’s the problem?
I didn’t really know there was a problem until my husband pointed it out. Maybe he didn’t notice it either, until my father-in-law arrived for Sunday lunch bearing gifts.
“Nice,” I remarked, fingering the bag of firm, ripe Better Boys. They were perfect specimens of tomato-icity.
The next day my husband pointed out mine aren’t. He managed to do so in an understated way, but I knew something was coming when he was talking to our son and referred to me as “your mother.” It’s never good when they do that.
“So did Poppa grow these tomatoes?” our son asked, piling a hunk of red juiciness onto a plate.
“Of course,” my husband answered him. “Your mother only grows decorative tomatoes.”
Usually “decorative” is a pleasant adjective, but I got his drift. My vines aren’t bearing much fruit. They’re mainly consumers—of dirt, space, rain, and my infrequent hoeing efforts. But they look good.
In my quest to improve production, I did some research. I wanted to nail something down. Fruit or vegetable?
Well, it turns out nobody really knows. It’s such a debate that tomato lovers once took the controversy all the way to the Supreme Court. In 1887, the United States held imported vegetables to a tariff rate of 10 percent. Fruit, in contrast, arrived on our shores tariff-free.
So, the tomato’s identity crisis had financial implications, eventually leading to the Supreme Court decision Nix versus Hedden that declared the tomato (drumroll, please) … a vegetable.
The honorable assembly came to this conclusion using the popular definition that classifies vegetables by use. Since tomatoes are generally served with dinner and not dessert, they were labeled as veggies.
Authorities in Europe, however, deduced differently. On that continent, the tomato is classified (correctly, botanically speaking) as a fruit. Diehard botanists take it even further. They place tomatoes in a fruit subset—berries.
So, it boils down to this. To determine your tomato stance, you either have to go botanical or gastronomical. Got it?
And I guess the whole decorative tomato plant thing really boils down to something else, too. An expectation of good fruit is right and reasonable. Just looking the part may mean an ax lies ready at the root.
I’m Kim Henderson.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Tomorrow: billionaires in space. What might that mean for the rest of us in the years to come?
Plus, Washington Wednesday and World Tour.
That and more tomorrow.
I’m Nick Eicher.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard.
The World and Everything in It comes to you from WORLD Radio.
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