Here Is What Fruits And Vegetables Looked Just Like Before We Domesticated Them
The next time you bite into a slice of a cob of corn, think about this: those familiar veggies and fruits didn’t necessarily look and taste this way.
Genetically modified foods, or GMOs, inspire strong reactions today, but people are tweaking the genetics of our favorite produce for millennia.
While GMOs may involve splicing genes from other organisms (for example, bacteria) to give plants desired traits — such as resistance to pests, selective breeding can be a slower procedure whereby farmers choose and develop crops with these traits over time.
From bananas into eggplant, here are a few of the foods which looked totally different before people first started growing them for food.
This 17th-century painting by Giovanni Stanchi depicts a watermelon that appears strikingly distinct from modern melons, as Vox points outside. A cross-section of the one in the painting, which was made between 1645 and 1672, seems to have swirly shapes embedded in six triangular pie-shaped pieces.
With time, people have bred watermelons to have a red, fleshy inside — which is really the placenta — such as those found here. Many people believe the watermelon in Stanchi’s painting might just be unripe or unwatered, however the black seeds at the painting suggest that it was, in actuality, ripe.
The very first bananas might have been cultivated at least 7,000 years ago — and maybe as early as 10,000 years ago — at what is now Papua New Guinea. They were also developed in Southeast Asia. Modern bananas came from just two wild varieties, Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana, which had big, hard seeds, such as those in this picture.
The hybrid produced the delicious modern banana, using its handy, graspable form and peelable covering. In comparison to the ancestor, the fruit contains considerably smaller seeds, tastes better, and so is packed with nourishment.
During the history, eggplants come in a wide range of shapes and colours, including blue, white, purple, purple, and yellow — such as those shown here. Some of the earliest eggplants were created in China. Primitive versions used to have spines on where the plant’s stem connects to the blossoms.
But selective breeding has gotten rid of the spines and given us the bigger, familiar, oblong purple vegetable you see in most grocery stores.
The oldest known peanuts were developed at the 10th century in Persia and Asia Minor. These were believed to initially be white or purple with a thin, forked root — such as those shown here — they lost their purple pigment and also turned into a yellow color.
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Farmers domesticated these sparse, white blossoms, which had a powerful flavor and biennial flower, into those big, tasty orange blossoms which are an annual winter harvest.
Probably the most iconic illustration of selective reproduction is American sweetcorn, which has been bred from the raw teosinte plant. Natural corn, also shown here, was headquartered in 7,000 BC and has been dry like a raw garlic, according to that this infographic by chemistry teacher James Kennedy.
Today, corn is 1,000 times bigger than it was 9,000 years ago and a lot less difficult to grow and peel. Also, 6.6 percent of it is composed of sugar, compared with just 1.9 percent in organic corn, according to Kennedy. Approximately half of those changes happened since the 15th century, when European settlers started promoting the harvest.
Peaches used to be little, cherry-like fruits using minimal flesh. They were domesticated around 4,000 B.C. from the ancient Greek and tasted earthy and somewhat sour, “like a lentil”, according to Kennedy.
But after thousands of years of farmers selectively breeding them , peaches are currently 64 times bigger, 27 percent juicier, and 4 percent sweeter.
Next time somebody tells you we should not be eating food that’s been modified, you can tell them we are.
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