We regard products as if they were the most insignificant of items, which they are. But we seldom give it a second thought to how they used to appear. Many fruits and vegetables looked very different just a few hundred years ago than they do now. Some were hardly edible, while others required an aesthetic makeover before being offered in stores. Humankind has transformed several forms of green produce beyond recognition due to our drive to change nature and adapt it to our particular wants.
Here are 7 fruits and vegetables that have undergone radical transformations over the years.
Cucumbers cultivated in the wild are nothing like those produced in a greenhouse. With all those spikes, a wild one may easily be mistaken for a cactus. Because wild cucumbers are exceedingly poisonous, they are absolutely inedible. They used to be grown only in India for medicinal uses. Cucumbers have evolved into a contemporary elongated form full of tasty cucumber juice after years of experimenting.
Corn may be found in abundance, especially during the summer. That doesn’t always imply that we know where it originated from. Its biological origins are, in truth, a mystery.
Maize was subsequently connected to a Mexican grass called teosinte by some experts. The grass bears thin ears with only a few dozen kernels encased in a tough covering. Teosinte was originally classed as a rice related, rather than maize, according to the New York Times.
But George W. Beadle, a Cornell University doctoral student, not only discovered that maize and teosinte had comparable chromosomes, but he also managed to induce teosinte kernels to explode. Beadle came to the conclusion that the two plants were closely related (and later went on to win the Nobel Prize for his work in genetics.)
Watermelons did not have the famous red flesh that we enjoy now. They were paler, with more seeds and less meat.
Hard, big seeds and a rough peel characterize the wild variety of this delectable delight. Because eating wild bananas uncooked is practically difficult, humans boiled them. The metamorphosis of bananas is said to have begun 10,000 years ago. The current version of the fruit is soft, flavorful, and nutrient-dense. Most importantly, the seeds are nearly undetectable and will not damage your teeth.
Musa acuminata, which Smithsonian describes as “a spindly plant with little, okra-like pods that were bred to yield seedless fruit,” and Musa balbisiana, which possessed hard, big seeds, developed into modern bananas. It wouldn’t be as simple to slice over your breakfast cereal if that were the case.
Carrots are a bright orange vegetable that is appreciated by rabbits, horses, and even tiny children. They are easy to cultivate and have been around for a long time. They just didn’t look like they did now.
According to the interactive World Carrot Museum, historians think the ancient Greeks and Romans farmed carrots. Those early plants were slender and off-white or purple in hue. Like today’s wild carrots, they usually had a forked root.
Historically, eggplants came in a variety of colors, including white, yellow, blue, and purple, and are today noted for their rich aubergine color. The English term “eggplant” is derived from the fact that the plants were frequently white and spherical. Spines might even be seen on certain plants.
“Several Sanskrit manuscripts, dated as early as 300 BCE, reference this plant with diverse descriptive phrases, which show its great appeal as food and medicinal,” writers Marie-Christine Daunay and Jules Janick wrote in the Chronica Horticulturae article “History and Iconography of Eggplant.”
For millennia, the best fruits were chosen for planting in order to provide juicier, bigger, and tastier harvests. Peaches were originally discovered in China around 4,000 BC. The fruit was first rather little, about the size of a cherry, with a large pit and, most interestingly, a white color. It took almost a thousand years to transform the fruit into something 60 times bigger, softer, sweeter, and juicier.