Here’s some interesting “food for thought,” literally: next time you decide to have some watermelon, or a banana, consider that these fruits and vegetables we take for granted today were not always like this.
In a natural, functional way that is distinctly separate from actual genetic modification, through selectively growing plants from the seed of other, particularly rich and plump fruit, human beings improved the nutritional value of plants and “domesticated” them over the course of centuries.
Then, at some point these bettered, “domesticated” fruit, via a natural process, began to get less nutritious as they were grown in depleted soil.
Although proponents of the natural way over the artificial way would make the distinction between domesticated plants and genetically modified plants right off the bat, the mainstream is quick to first try and naturalize genetic modification. According to Business Insider:
“Genetically modified foods, or GMOs, inspire strong reactions nowadays, but humans have been tweaking the genetics of our favourite produce for millennia.
While GMOs may involve splicing genes from other organisms (such as bacteria) to give plants desired traits – like resistance to pests, selective breeding is a slower process whereby farmers select and grow crops with those traits over time.”
Foods looked completely different from how they do today, so at one point in time, farmers made very wise choices in which seeds to keep, and which ones to discard.
Here are some wild fruits and their natural, domesticated cousins. The differences are utterly shocking.
1. Wild watermelon
Check out this 1600’s painting by an artist named Giovanni Stanchi. It’s a watermelon that is so far from bearing resemblance to today’s watermelon, you’d wonder how much of it really is nutritious.
The painting is said to have been made between 1645 and 1672, and the watermelon is divided internally into about six triangular pie shaped pieces, with swirly shapes and green areas that don’t look all that packed with flavor. Make no mistake, the black seeds indicate that watermelon is fully ripe.
Now, a modern watermelon is full of flavorful, nutritious red flesh, at least nutritious if the soil is not depleted, and unfortunately it often is.
2. Wild banana
It is believed that the very first bananas may have been cultivated as long as 7,000 to 10,000 years ago, in what is now Papua New Guinea, as well as Southeast Asia.
Two wild varieties of banana are the root of the modern bananas, and they are Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana, featuring big, hard seeds and not much fleshy banana to enjoy.
Now just look at the amazing work the domestication of bananas did. It is easy to peel, rich with what gives sustenance to a human being, and it tastes better with smaller seeds and more nutrients.
3. Wild eggplant
Most people don’t know this. Eggplants have come in such varying colors and shapes throughout history, from white, to purple, to azure, to yellow like the ones in that photo.
In China, some of the earliest eggplants around find origin. Primitive eggplants even had spines, where the stem of the plant connects to the flowers.
Now, the selective breeding people have used on the eggplant has gotten rid of the spines over the years, and now big, plump eggplants can be enjoyed by everyone: it’s nature, even though humans had an influence.
4. Wild carrot
Where did carrots come from? The earliest known carrots could be found in the 10th century in the Asia Minor and Persia, or modern day Iran. It is believed that they were more often purple or white, with a forked, thin root: not anywhere near as nutritious as they are today.
These big orange, straight roots are the product of farming. The thin white roots that used to compose carrots had a strong flavor, but they were no match for this kind of nutrition.
5. Wild corn
Selective breeding in the Americas was intensely perfected by the native people, as the famous North American sweetcorn was bred from the barely edible teosinte plant. This is what corn used to look like, first domesticated somewhere around 7,000 BC. It was dry like a raw potato, according to an infographic.
9,000 years ago, corn was 1,000 times smaller than it was then: that’s a literal figure. 6.6 percent of corn is composed of sugar, and 1.9 percent is sugar in natural corn. Around the 15th century when the Americas were brutally colonized by Europeans, they influenced it to become this way as well. That doesn’t mean the rest of their actions were justified.
Also, too much of modern corn is genetically modified and drenched in Roundup herbicide.
6. Wild peach
Yes, a peach was formerly the size of a cherry. They didn’t have much flesh, and were first domesticated around 4,000 BC by the ancient Chinese. According to James Kennedy, they were earthy and a little salty, like a “lentil.”
Thousands of years later, peaches are 64 times larger, 4 percent sweeter, and 27 percent juicier.
The Business Insider article ties it back into how great genetically modified foods are, continuing: “So next time someone tells you we shouldn’t be eating food that’s been genetically modified, you can tell them we already are.”
This is humans having a natural, not artificial positive impact on the environment, something much different from genetic modification with gene splicing and making changes to plants that are completely different.