In today’s era certain foods are emphasised as natural and organic but the reality is different, we are surviving in man made food.
Believe it or not, the majority of fruits and vegetables that you are consuming today are man made. Yes! That’s shocking but it is the truth.
Many experiments were done by botanists and naturalists to achieve what we eat today.
Let me mention some of them: apples, bananas, strawberries, broccoli, almonds, carrots, oranges, peanuts and many more are there but we can’t mention all of them as this list will never end.
These all are man-made hybrids of nuts, fruits and vegetables that went through a selective breeding process where only the favourable plants that held good characteristics were selected for replantation to reproduce and become food.
You can also consider that it was done intentionally.
Well! It wasn’t that easy there were approvals as well as rejections. As many outcomes were not so satisfying, only those foods were selected that showed wanted results.
Man mane fruits and vegetables are that food item that was once intentionally crossed with similar existing species to achieve food that holds better and modified versions.
- Food with more flavours whether it is a fruit or a vegetable
- Bigger in size
- Easy to cultivate
- Resistance to any kind of infection or germs
- Resistance to climate change
- Convenient for farmers
Every fruit and vegetable that we are consuming today stems from its original ancestor, still very few of them are the same as they were thousands of years ago.
When you look 1000 or more years back you will get to know that the fruits and vegetables that existed at that time were completely different.
Apples that were found in forests were very small as compared to modern existing varieties of apples.
- They were about the size of an olive and they didn’t even taste good.
- They were sour and even bitter sometimes.
- Also, some different varieties of apples found were sweeter too.
Then humans decided to hybridise both the variety and check out if they get some better outcomes. Like they expected the hybridised apple to be sweeter, bigger and juicier.
It wasn’t only the single experiment that took place but there were a lot of crossbreeding of apples that took place to achieve what we eat today.
While breeding, people from different regions wanted different tastes like sweet, crispy and tart apples.
Similarly, many other folks did the same and resulted in different existing varieties of apples that we know today.
Similarly watermelons, bananas, eggplants, carrots, corn, tomatoes, strawberries, almonds and cucumbers are some of the other examples that were hybridised to get better versions of them.
Watermelons that existed before completely varied from modern watermelons. They are known as wild watermelons because their flesh had uneven colour, uneven shapes and many black seeds.
Whereas, the modern watermelon that we eat today are hybridised by humans to achieve watermelons that have a red vibrant colour with fleshy interior and are seedless.
The first banana that has been cultivated is known to be grown about 7000 years ago. At that time wild bananas were found. Over time, crossbreeding happened.
The modern banana which we consume today is a hybrid of two wild varieties namely Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana. Balbisiana had large, hard seeds inside it with tough inner flesh. While acuminata had a gross taste with soft flesh.
Now we are blessed to consume bananas that have nutrients, sweet flesh, are easy to hand and have peelable coverings.
Earlier there were many varieties of eggplant. They came in a wide variety of different shapes and colours like white, purple, yellow and azure.
They were very small in size with large spikes in them making it very difficult to pluck them.
The modern eggplant that exists today is very large, has a purple colour and softer flesh.
While humans played an important role as they performed hybridization here too to get better and consumable varieties of eggplants.
Earlier, carrots were more like roots at that time. The earliest carrots grown is known to be in the 10th century in Persia and Asia Minor.
They didn’t have orange or red colours like today in fact, they had purple or white skin with thin roots. Over time they lost purple pigment and became yellow.
While humans hybridized carrots too to achieve modern carrots that have a larger, flavourful taste and orange roots.
Earlier, natural corn was completely different from modern corn.
It was more like dry raw potato.
Today, we are seeing the hybridised version of corn that is 1000 times bigger than natural corn and is very convenient to peel and grow.
While the majority of hybridization took place in the 15th century by Europeans.
Earlier tomatoes were very small in size just the size of peas, even the cherry tomatoes are way bigger than them.
These wild tomatoes were first found in South America.
Like all, humans conducted hybridization of different species of tomatoes and came out with different varieties that we consume today.
Now we can consume bigger tomatoes and even cherry tomatoes are the result of one of the crossbreeding.
The tasty strawberries are also a result of hybridization.
Earlier strawberries that were grown were wild and woodland species. These strawberries were very small with bright red colour and amazing flavour.
Later, crossbreeding was done between two of its species namely Fragaria virginiana and Fragaria chiloensis.
Still, you can find those wild strawberries but barely anyone grows them nowadays.
Without the crossbreeding of these two species, it was impossible to get the strawberries that we love today.
We all love the sweet crunch of almonds but do you know that it is a hybrid version.
If humans haven’t made the modern almonds you could have died eating those original versions of almonds as most of the wild almonds are poisonous when consumed in large amounts.
They are also bitter whereas the almonds that we consume today are packed with nutrients and have a sweet taste.
Well! It’s quite difficult for scientists to understand how humans invented an edible nut from poisonous plants, it is a mystery.
The original versions of cucumber weren’t the same as today’s existing varieties.
They had dangerous big and small spikes on their skin.
Well! The cucumber we consume today has been cultivated since 3000 years ago. You can still find wild cucumbers in some places.
The final modern cucumber wasn’t hybridised till the 1800s.
Now you can find many varieties of cucumbers as it holds a long history.
And the list goes on and the process of crossbreeding will continue to explore more food options. On this planet, we need every variety of food for our survival and we are always in search of the best flavours, colours and health benefits so, this process isn’t going to stop anywhere.
Now, the majority of the foods we are consuming are man-made and if you still look at your kitchen desk you can find a few of the above-mentioned food items.