By Tanya Lewis on Science Alert site:
Next time you bite into a slice of watermelon or a cob of corn, consider this: these familiar fruits and veggies didn’t always look and taste this way.
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.
From bananas to eggplant, here are some of the foods that looked totally different before humans first started growing them for food.
This 17th-century painting by Giovanni Stanchi depicts a watermelon that looks strikingly different from modern melons, as Vox points out. A cross-section of the one in the painting, which was made between 1645 and 1672, appears to have swirly shapes embedded in six triangular pie-shaped pieces.
Over time, humans have bred watermelons to have a red, fleshy interior – which is actually the placenta – like the ones seen here. Some people think the watermelon in Stanchi’s painting may just be unripe or unwatered, but the black seeds in the painting suggest that it was, in fact, ripe.
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