Would you eat or even recognize these foods in their original forms? Chances are that you wouldn’t.
Genetically modified foods are a big source of debate these days. Some don’t want anything to do with modern GMOs, while others are all for them. However, a lot of people don’t realize that many of today’s fruits and vegetables wouldn’t exist without careful selective breeding. In fact, the original versions of these popular plants might be downright unrecognizable to the modern public.
The earliest known cultivated carrots were first grown in the 10th century in Asia Minor and Persia. Before it was domesticated, the wild carrot was spread all over the world. Seeds up to 5,000 years old have been discovered in Europe.
The carrot’s original appearance was small and white. It also had more of a forked appearance like a plant root. Most likely, ancient cultures used it as a medicinal plant.
It’s thought that the carrot’s transformation into the orange, sweet, less bitter descendant so popular today took many centuries to breed. Today’s orange carrots are known as Carotene or Western carrots, while their cousins are known as Asiatic or Eastern carrots, which have purple and sometimes yellow roots.
No one can mistake a big, purple, shiny eggplant for anything other than what it is. However, eggplants actually have many varieties. The eggplant was first domesticated in what is modern-day India and Burma. Today, it’s widely cultivated in the land that stretches from northeast India and Burma to Northern Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and southwest China.
The word “eggplant” is said to come from the British occupation of India, where the plants were white and egg-shaped. Writings from as early as 300 BC describe the plant in a variety of ways—as the “blue” fruit, as the royal melon, and as having spines.
Over the centuries, the plant migrated across Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and North America. The plant in its various forms was often included in early art and literature from these regions.