Food as we know it today has not always been like this: fruit and vegetables have changed over time, also due to human intervention. Let’s find out some interesting cases of food evolution.
As with animals, plant organisms also have the ability to evolve and change over time . Unlike what one might think, the various fruits and vegetables that we are used to seeing on our tables have not always been so.
In the past, and with the past we mean many centuries ago , fruits and vegetables were very different from how we are used to seeing them. However, not all changes were made by nature. In fact, many of these vegetables and fruits have been modified by farmers and scholars to make them better.
What is meant by best? More resistant to pests , larger in size and with a more pleasant taste . And, in some cases, the differences are very evident. Let’s find out some glaring cases of food evolution.
The fruit of the past
Have you ever wondered what some of the most popular fruits looked like a few centuries ago? Thanks to the Lithuanian site Bored Panda we have the answer. In particular, we know the appearance of bananas , watermelons and peaches .
Banana is an ancient fruit : some researchers estimate that this plant dates back to more than ten thousand years ago. However, in the past, bananas were very different from how we know them today. In fact, they were full of seeds and with a less sweet taste . Their cultivation began in the Caribbean areas in the 19th century. However, after a first attempt, the crops were destroyed by an attack of pests. It was for this reason that the banana as we know it today was created from the union of Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana.
Another case of food evolution is that of watermelons. In fact, as visible in a seventeenth-century painting attributed to Giovanni Stanchi, a garland of flowers and butterflies , the pulp was less red , with a greater presence of white, and the seeds were contained in large cavities .
The first documented appearance of peaches dates back to a period between 6000 BC and 4000 BC They would have been of Chinese origin and, at the time, would have been small in size , like those of a cherry. Furthermore, it appears that they had a flavor similar to that of a legume. To obtain peaches similar to today’s peaches, it is necessary to wait more than a millennium, when they would have been grown in Japan for the first time. However, the modern version of the peaches would be due to various crossings made by scholars of the Persian Empire.
Evolution of food, vegetables
Among the most incredible evolutions, there is certainly that of carrots . This famous herbaceous plant of Middle Eastern origins was completely different from how we know them. In fact, not only was the root forked , but the characteristic orange color did not exist. They were whitish. The changes have been very slow and their evolution over time gradually.
Tomatoes , considered a panacea for digestion, are another vegetable that has undergone significant changes. This plant, belonging to the class of solanaceae , was then very similar to berries and was not edible raw due to the presence of a toxic alkaloid, solanine. The ancient version is still observable in some South American countries and is known as currant tomato.
The last case of food evolution that we have to offer is that of corn . In the past, it looked similar to a pea pod and tasted like a dried raw potato . We owe the current version to the settlers who settled in Latin America in the 16th century.
Photo source: https://pixabay.com/it/photos/verdure-carota-cibo-sano-dieta-1085063/, https://pixabay.com/it/photos/banane-frutta-carboidrati-sweet-652497/