This Is What Fruits and Vegetables Looked Like Before Humans Intervened

This Is What Fruits and Vegetables Looked Like Before Humans Intervened

In an era where nearly everything we eat has an extensive ingredient list, it’s appealing to pick up a simple fruit or vegetable. However, the fruits and vegetables we know and love are a lot more complicated than you’d think. They didn’t always look like they do. In fact, it took decades of human intervention to transform them into the delicious, nutrient-rich morsels they are today.

Farmers, food engineers, and food manufacturers have long been using selective breeding, hybridization, and most recently, genetic engineering to transform the fruits and vegetables we eat into better versions of themselves. To understand how these processes shaped your food, you first need to understand just how they work.

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  • Selective breeding happens when humans take seeds from the most desirable varieties of fruits and vegetables and cultivate them. Repeating this process over and over can result in a new variety with the trait you’re looking for, like juicier watermelon or plumper corn.
  • Hybridization happens when humans breed two slightly different plants together to create a hybrid fruit or vegetable. If you’ve ever eaten a Tangelo, starfruit, or Meyer lemon, you’ve eaten a hybrid.
  • Genetic engineering is the process of splicing a plant’s DNA in order to directly target and replace specific genes. Many varieties of modern apples, potatoes, and corn were produced through genetic modification.

But before these processes came on the scene, here’s what some of the most common fruits and vegetables used to look like.

Corn

Corn has been a staple grain of the human diet since as far back as 10,000 B.C. when it started as a grass called teosinte. This early corn was a hard, small, dry grain with a taste similar to raw potato. In fact, corn of today looks so unlike its grass ancestor that we didn’t realize corn and teosinte were related until scientists studied their genetics in the 1930s. What food researchers now know is that modern maize was domesticated many millennia ago and had been transformed into longer cobs with plumper kernels by 4000 B.C., thanks to Mesoamerican farmers saving seeds from more favorable crops and planting them for the next harvest.

But it didn’t stop there. Over the next millennia, corn would continue to be bred to be what it is today. Since the 1980s, food scientists have been using genetic engineering to give these crops pest and drought resistance, increase their yield, and otherwise create a more sustainable farming ecosystem.

Watermelon

Do you recognize the watermelon pictured here? If you don’t, that’s probably because it’s from a 17th-century painting by Giovanni Stanchi. While you might be able to determine that it’s some kind of watermelon, it hardly looks like the seedless, juicy, ruby-red picnic fruit we know today.

Naturally, fruits can only survive in the wild by spreading their seeds, which is why this early watermelon has so many of them. Over the centuries, the tendency of farmers to plant only the seeds from watermelons with the most favorable qualities — that is, the juiciest fruits with the smallest seeds — has turned it into a fruit that would never survive in nature: one with few seeds, protected by a thin rind, and packed with tons of sugar and water for a juicy crunch…….Read More>>

Source:- curiosity
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