One thing we know for sure, these familiar fruits and veggies didn’t look and tastes the same way as they do nowadays. And although genetically modified foods – or GMO – inspire strong reaction consider this the next time you bit into a banana or a cob of corn: humans have been tweaking the genetics of fruits and veggies for millennia.
But this tweaking process – selective breeding – took a ‘bit’ longer in comparison to GMO process of splicing genes from other organisms to give plants desired traits. In this slower process farmers select and grow crops with those traits over a long period of time.
From bananas to corn and peaches, here are some foods that totally looked different before humans started tinkering with it. So next time someone complains about the way all are food is becoming more and more genetically modified, you can tell them that we already have been doing this for centuries.
Wild banana versus the modern banana
The first bananas were probably cultivated almost 7,000 years ago – and possibly even earlier – in Papua New Guinea. The modern banana came actually from two wild species, the so-called Musa Acuminata and the Musa Babisiana. Both were two wild varieties of bananas, which had large and hard seeds, just like the ones in the photo above. By combining those two varieties, the modern hybrid and delicious banana was born.
Wild corn versus modern corn
The most iconic example of selective breeding is perhaps the Norh American sweetcorn. Sweetcorn is bred from the barely edible teostinte plant. Natural corn was first cultivated in 7,000 BC, but it was dry like a raw potato.
Furthermore, the corn we nowadays produce and consume is 1,000 times larger than it was 9,000 years ago. Most of these changes occurred since the 15 century, when European settlers started cultivating the vegetable.
Wild peach versus the modern peach
Did you know that peaches used to be very small; they were like the size of a cherry.They were first cultivated around 4,000 B.C. by the ancient Chinese and probably tasted earthier and slightly salty. But after millennia of selective breeding, the peaches became 64 times larger and 27% juicier.