If it wasn’t for the artificial selection, this summer you would have been refreshing yourself with peaches size of a grape, and you wouldn’t have even heard of watermelon.
If you by accident find peach dating from 6 thousand years ago, you will be a little surprised of the sour lump in size of a grape that is nothing like our modern, juicy, mild peach. During the 12 thousand years since human developed agriculture, the food we eat has undergone drastic transformations. Farmers have found ways to choose different features when breeding plants, creating generations of larger, softer and juicer products.
The Australian teacher in chemistry James Kennedy took an interest on the topic and started to investigate. The findings have inspired him to create a serial of info-graphics which explains how some of our favorite fruits and vegetables have changed over the centuries.
First the peaches:
Born in China, the original peach was much smaller than today and had a taste of lentil. After 6000 years of artificial selection, the final product was 16 times higher, 27% juicier, 4% softer and much, much more nutritive.
“I started to look for the natural fruit out there, and found that it probably is the advanced watermelon. For 5000 years, the watermelon has expanded from the original 6 kinds of 1200 species. Modern watermelons are available in different colors and types, and it has no seeds. It comes from a small region in Southern Africa, and now grows in all countries worldwide. Modern watermelons are about 100 times heavier than their predecessors and much sweeter.”
The corn was cultivated in an area that today we know as Mexico and Central America. At that time, corn was only tenth of which we know today, and had much less cells. For today’s corn we can thank the Europeans. About half of the artificial selection began to happen in the 15th century when European settlers further cultivated the plant.