Are vegetables made by people

Primordial vegetables and primary fruits through the ages

What doesn't seem particularly edible at first glance has now made it onto our plates thanks to many changes.

Things change, nothing is forever - that applies to all living beings on our planet. Crop plants have also changed over the millennia. In addition to evolutionary changes, humans have also influenced the so-called archetypal forms of fruit and vegetable plants in order to make them more productive and tastier for us.

Most of the original forms of many types of fruit and vegetables differ from their present-day appearance to such an extent that we cannot assign them to one another on the fruit and vegetable shelf. Thin, white roots with a rough taste - not exactly the common description for a carrot, right? But what we know today as the tasty turnip bears little resemblance to the original carrot in terms of shape, color or taste. But not only the carrot has changed over time; cabbage, aubergines, corn, bananas, watermelons and apples have also undergone profound changes. We take you into the distant past and contrast the original types with their modern self.



Today popular with young and old alike: the banana. While today's banana is uniformly yellow in color, has a tender flesh and is stately size, the original form was small, green and extremely pithy. The kernels of the original banana can be mixed with the kernels of the prickly pear (Opuntia) to compare. Sure: the road to today's banana enjoyment was long. Scientists suspect that bananas began to be domesticated in Papua New Guinea 7,000 years ago. However, anyone who thinks that the banana has finished developing is mistaken. International breeders have been working under high pressure for years to breed new varieties that are resistant to the widespread fungal disease "Yellow Sikatoga". Read more about it here: The story of the distressed Cavendish banana.


The eggplant originally comes from Asia. Before the popular vegetable was domesticated, the fruits were very small and greenish to purple in color. We owe it to the efforts of hard-working breeders that the aubergine is not only virtually seedless today, but also about fifty times as large as it was before. In contrast to most of the other archetypes, original eggplants are still grown in Asia. The locals especially appreciate the supposedly excellent aroma.


Wild corn has little in common with today's corn. The wild form is much more reminiscent of grain and the grains were also quite hard and extremely dry. Probably the first efforts of the breeders began before about 7000 BC. If you look at today's maize, in our opinion the effort was definitely worth it.

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When you see the original carrot, you probably lose your appetite for raw vegetables. The archetype is little more than thin roots (white to purple inside) with a coarse taste. While the origin of the original white carrots is believed to be in the Mediterranean, the origin of the yellow and purple varieties is believed to be in the Middle East. The first evidence of the carrot can be found in early Roman literature.


The tsamma melon is the original form of the watermelon that originated in Africa. The pulp of the tsamma melon is predominantly whitish. Some natural forms already had a slight pink color, which was later specifically developed further through human breeding since the 15th century. In the meantime, watermelons are not only deep red, but sugar-sweet and sometimes also seedless. This would be unthinkable without the endless efforts of various breeders.


The search for the original apple leads to Central Asia, where the Asian wild apple (Malus sieversii) still thrives in a few areas today. Although the wild apple already resembles today's apples, while the tree becomes very high with up to 30m, the fruits are more manageable in size. In terms of taste, only a few natural varieties of wild apples are halfway enjoyable. Only centuries of crossbreeding brought tasty results.


The original cabbage resembles today's rapeseed and has its origin in the Mediterranean region. Few types of vegetables and fruits are as versatile as wild cabbage. Targeted selection of the leaves led to today's white and red cabbage, savoy cabbage and palm cabbage. Growing flowers gave us cauliflower and broccoli. Kohlrabi is a thickening of the trunk. You can find more information about the breeding of cabbage here: Urkohl: How we changed the genes.

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I am currently studying agricultural science in beautiful Weihenstephan. In addition to gardening (I mainly grow vegetables and herbs), my heart also beats especially for the animal world. No matter if dog, guinea pig, hedgehog or bee - everyone should feel comfortable in my garden.
Favorite fruits: watermelons and raspberries
Favorite vegetable: potatoes