Top 10 Foods That Used To Look Very Different And The Way They Changed
You might think that fruits and vegetables have always looked the same. In the end, they are very healthy and come directly from nature to our plate. But what if we told you that certain foods have not always looked the way we know them?
Selective breeding and molding have helped human beings modify food to our liking, altering its appearance radically throughout the years. Get ready to be amazed at some fruits and veggies that were very different before we began to grow them.
The development of the corn we love to eat every day is an excellent example of how humans have transformed veggies. The original corn comes from teosinte, a grass-like plant from Mexico which was thin, small, and barely edible with the few kernels it had. In the past, they were hard to reach due to the shell where they were encased.
So how did that turn into our delicious corn? Through selective breeding. The most desirable and larger teosinte plants started to be cultivated. After several years, it became an easier-to-peel version with more kernels. The sad part is that current corn has four times more sugar than the old variant.
This fruit is currently on the most wanted list of young generations since people eat it with virtually everything. But the primitive avocado in the wild was way smaller, three inches in diameter to be more specific; thus, it could easily fit on the palm of your hand.
The pip used to take almost all the space, leaving little room for the fleshy pulp. Just to give you an idea, you could need ten wild versions to obtain the same amount of flesh, which was rougher and grittier. Moreover, it was also covered in a hard shell, different from the current leathery skin. The solution? Selective breeding again.
Our forefathers also selectively bred this fruit to create a larger and more delicious version. The first peach that was domesticated in China around 6000 B.C was more like a cherry, red and small. It had only 64% of edible flesh since the pip inside occupied around 36% of the space.
As for the flavor, it was described similar to a lentil: sweet, sour, earthy, and lightly salty. Many years later, our peach now has a soft and edible skin with 90% of pulp that you can eat, while the stone only takes 10% of the space. Plus, the current version is juicier, sweeter, and 64% bigger than the wild one.
If you saw the wild version of it, it would be difficult for you to recognize it. Have you ever wondered why they have the word "egg" in their name? That is because the original version was rounded and white like an egg, although it could be found in other shapes and colors such as yellow and blue.
Due to its bitter aftertaste, people only used it for medical reasons. The modern eggplant, conversely, started to be grown in places like India, China, and Thailand. It is purple and with an oblong shape. The flavor improved dramatically since now it is very delicious.
In the previous cases, breeding helped humans create a better and tastier version of fruits. However, the contrary result was achieved with strawberries. The wild one, known as Fragaria Vesca, is better than the modern one due to its sweeter taste. The only problem for farmers was its small size.
So what happened to the flavor? Size, resistance to diseases, and better appearance were factors that prevailed to farmers. But in the process of achieving this, the fruit ended up with a decreased flavor. Our current berry is the result of crossing Fragaria Vesca with a Chilean variant that was white but bigger.
The evolution of this fruit is intriguing and long. During the first stage, we find the wild ancestor, which was the size of a berry and in colors such as purple, green, and yellow. The latter earned the fruit its first name, Golden Apple. This version ultimately evolved to what we know as the cherry tomato.
The second stage started with this tiny variant since it was used to develop the big fruit we all know. As with the strawberry, these modifications were not all for the best. The modern tomato is less flavorful and less sweet due to the loss of some genes that created sugar.
Found in Persia in the tenth century, the ancient vegetable was mainly purple or white, skinny, with forked roots and a bitter flavor. That Middle Eastern version was eventually brought to Europe, where it was selectively bred to decrease the strong taste, increase sweetness and size.
And how did the orange color version emerged? The orange variation did exist but was not very popular. Nevertheless, the Duch started to grow them as a tribute to Prince William of Orange. The abundant cultivation led the color to be the preferred version.
The first fruit is believed to be native from India, but you could never tell it is the one we all know due to the distinct look. It used to have spikes that were at least 1.2 inches, with oval or spherical shape and only four big seeds inside. Surprisingly, this wild version was considered toxic, and some thought it could kill people.
The variant we have now bears little resemblance to the old one. The current cucumber is entirely edible, with a cylindrical shape that could grow up to 24 inches, and it has many seeds. If you are on a diet, you can eat this low-calory fruit because it has 90% of water.
The snack fruit was formed 10,000 years ago in Papua New Guinea, but it was completely different. The banana was stalky, hard, and filled with hard seeds that made it inedible. Perhaps, that is why people think that it used to be cooked first in order to be eaten.
The bananas we have today are a hybrid of two wild species: Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana. This cross gave rise to our renowned fruit. Now, we can peel this yellow food, enjoy more nutrients and an enhanced taste, and not be bothered with big seeds.
This is the most drastically-changed fruit of all our list. The first recorded harvest was in Egypt roughly 5,000 years ago, but they were almost irrecognisable. They measured only around two inches in diameter, were bitter and had a light pinkish color.
Moreover, the fruit had swirly shapes inside with a spiral of seeds and six triangular pieces. Thousands of years later, our selectively-bred watermelon is 1,500 times bigger than its forefather, with a much better taste and a more vibrant red color.
Technology, human creativity, and acumen made it possible that we can now enjoy all these fruits. Nevertheless, we were utterly amazed by their ancient versions. Do you think they will continue evolving? We will have to wait and see if scientists make that possible. Until next time!