Domestication is an artificial process aimed at improving the qualities of produce. Some of the significant domestication targets are plants, which means that what your favorite fruits look like now is not really what they looked like millions of years ago! Read along for six fruits that look nothing like they did before.
Nowadays, Genetically Modified Foods (GMOs) are widely critiqued. However, the phenomenon is not one born by the new generation! Many of the fruits you see now looked nothing like they do now; carrots weren't always orange in color, and corns were once barely fit for consumption!
GMOs are products of carefully splicing genes from other organisms to give plants desired traits (like resistance to pests) and selective breeding, a slower process whereby farmers select and grow crops with such ideal characteristics over time.
Read along for some fruits and vegetables that looked different before domestication.
Eggplants have taken different shapes, colors, and sizes over time. The primitive eggplant wasn't green. Instead, they were white, azure, purple, or yellow, and they had spines on the place where the plant's stem connects to the flowers.
Thanks to selective breeding, eggplants are now green, oblong, and more fleshy, so they lack that sturdy spine.
The earliest known carrots were white or purple and had a slender and forked root; they also barely seemed fit for consumption. Over time, they are thought to have lost their purple pigment and taken on a yellow color.
Now domesticated, the thin, white roots have taken on an orange shade and come into season during winter.
The North American sweetcorn, which was bred from the teosinte plant, is highly referenced when it comes to selective breeding. Its domestication started in 7,000 BC when it was a lot like dry potatoes.
Now, corns have taken on larger sizes, are perfectly fit for consumption, have higher sugar content, and are much larger than before.
Fun fact: most of these changes are said to have happened since after the 15th century.
A 17th-century painting by Giovanni Stanchi gives an accurate illustration of what wild watermelons look like. A slice of the fruit shows swirly shapes embedded in six triangular pie-shaped sections, making the fruit look nothing like its modern version with more succulent flesh.
Fun fact: Many have argued that the watermelon may have been unripe, but the dark seeds hint that it was, in fact, ripe.
According to experts, peaches were domesticated around 4,000 BCE, and they tasted mildly salty and earthy (much like lentils). They were small, like cherries, and had very little flesh.
This is starkly different from the sweet and fleshy peach many people now call their favorites.
Wild bananas are thought to have first been cultivated as early as 10,000 years ago in Papua New Guinea. The modern banana was realized from cross-breeding two wild breeds, Musa acuminata, and Musa balbisiana.
Compared to the modern banana, the wild bananas had large seeds and didn't taste as good.
Which of these foods are you most surprised to find on the list?