Exploring the world of man-made vegetables

Man-made vegetables

Vegan or not, everybody loves vegetables. Well, some more than others. But do you know there are more man-made vegetables worldwide than naturally grown vegetables? Although it may seem strange, the vegetables we buy in greengrocers or supermarkets are practically different from those our ancestors grew thousands of years ago.

I want to take you on a journey of the spectacular evolution these crops have experienced over time and tell you all about these amazing vegetables.

What are man-made vegetables?

Vegetables cross-bred and selectively bred by humans to develop new types with desirable features, such as flavor or appearance, are referred to as “man-made” vegetables.

Cross-pollinations will also occasionally take place to produce new hybrids. This is particularly well-liked with fruits and vegetables open to pollination from humans or insects like bees.

The additional cross and selective breeding will subsequently improve the flavor and aesthetic attributes of these new man-made fruits and vegetables.

How are man-made vegetables made?

Man-made vegetables are made through hybridization, resulting in cross-pollination between two closely related plants. Therefore, cross-pollination alone, and not any other process, is why man-made vegetables exist. An excellent example is a cross-pollination between two distinct orange species. The developed orange won’t look anything like the two starting plants. However, the resulting hybrid orange will usually be larger, sweeter, and probably seedless.

Even though humans can use pollinators to speed up the hybridization process, it regularly happens on our farms. For example, bees, one of the most active natural pollinators, collect pollen from one plant and transfer it to another. This is how cross-pollination occurs in the natural world.

Are man-made vegetables safe?

Yes, it is guaranteed that man-made vegetables are safe for consumption. Cross-pollination has occurred naturally for a long time and will continue. As a result, today, every plant in the world is a man-made plant.

Fruits and vegetables that are hybrids are good for your health. In actuality, hybrids are said to have higher nutritional density than their parent crops. So if you produce man-made vegetables, you’ll probably get more nutrients overall.

One of the key benefits of man-made vegetables is that they can be produced safely. Because no chemicals are needed during the hybridization process, it is an artificial process. Additionally, alien DNA has kept the crop’s genetic makeup the same. Therefore, in this method, the food’s safety is guaranteed.

This is not to be confused with GMOs, which are different since they may contain animal DNA and involve chemicals.

Man-made vegetables, according to studies, contain more nutrients than their parent plants. So scientists and business experts agree that hybridization aims to improve the quality of fruits and vegetables. Orange hybrids are a good example.

They have more vitamin C as compared to the original oranges. As a result, if you want to eat healthier fruits and vegetables, hybrids should be considered.

Consider hybrids if you want to buy fruits and vegetables that will last longer. Due to their longer shelf life, hybrids are the best choice for stocking up. As a result, you may predict that they won’t spoil for a longer amount of time. As a result, man-made vegetables are safe for consumption. In addition, they will enhance your health due to their higher vitamin concentration. Furthermore, it’s important to remember that man-made vegetables don’t contain GMOs.

Are man-made vegetables the same as genetically modified (GMO)?

Though frequently confused, “man-made” and “GMO” are distinct. Therefore, it’s critical to comprehend the distinction.

A “Genetically Modified Organism” is referred to as GMO. It describes any plant whose DNA has been modified through genetic engineering methods.

Inserting genes from one species into another is the most typical method. Because of the added gene, these plants can synthesize several proteins not found in specific crops. Due to the additional genes, they might also have larger concentrations of insecticides and herbicides.

Man-made vegetables are not the same as GMOs. Unlike GMOs, no genes are manually altered in foods that humans manufacture. Man-made things go through planting, growing, and pollination to cross-breed. GMOs involve techniques carried out in labs.

Which vegetables are man-made?

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Corn
  • Carrot
  • Eggplant
  • Tomato
  • Cabbage
  • Radish
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cucumber
  • Collard greens / Kale
  • Potato
  • Garlic
  • Soy


Man-made vegetables: Broccoli

Broccoli is an annual vegetable plant of the cabbage family, a subspecies of cauliflower. The name of this vegetable comes from the Italian word “brocco”, which means “shoot” or “branch”. Broccoli is native to Asia Minor and the Eastern Mediterranean. The Greeks and Romans ate broccoli 2,000 years ago, but it only became popular in Europe in the 16th century.

Broccoli is an annual plant with succulent dark green buds. This cabbage has an early ripening period. Its vegetative period from germination to harvesting the head is 60–65 days, and from planting seedlings is 30–35 days.

Broccoli differs from cauliflower in the structure of the head, which consists of formed purple or green buds. The diameter of the head reaches 10–12 cm. After cutting off the central head, the plant begins to branch; each branch ends with a small head. Next, heads are cut off with a part of the stem 10–20 cm long, which is also eaten.

This vegetable looked like a mini tree and was initially eaten during the Roman Empire. Its history is more than 2,000 years old. Today we often hear that broccoli is good for health. This is because it is full of nutrients. Broccoli is not able to grow on its own in the wild. It was developed through selective breeding of the wild cabbage Brassica Oleracea.


Man-made vegetables: Cauliflower

Many man-made fruits and vegetables come from entirely different species. For example, wild mustard was cultivated for food 2500 years ago. The Greeks and Romans focused on planting mustard with large leaves. It later created kale and collard greens. Selective breeding changed the look of cabbage into the form we know today. The people who planted large leafy vegetables invented the first cabbage.

Cauliflower is a vegetable plant in the cabbage family. Another name for cauliflower is curly cabbage. The product organ of the plant consists of many shoots with the beginnings of inflorescences. Those familiar with mathematics can compare this amazing plant with a fractal, the essence of which is reduced to self-similarity: a part is a reduced copy of the whole. And all the cauliflower inflorescences individually are like a whole head of cabbage.

Curly cabbage is a cultivated plant believed to be native to the Mediterranean. Interestingly, no one has yet met cauliflower as a natural wild plant.


Man-made vegetables: Corn

It is not a part of man-made fruits and vegetables, but it should also be on the list for some reason. Modern corn doesn’t look like its ancestor at all. It initially looked like a pinecone. Modern corn would not exist without the farmers of central Mexico. The ancestor of corn was a wild grass known as Teosinte around 9,000 years ago. It is believed that people in the Tehuacan Valley of Mexico first domesticated this plant. The Olmec and Maya cultivated corn for centuries. As cultivation continued, corn grew to the size we know it today.

The wild ancestor of corn looked more like a standard blade of grass, such as you would find in any field! It was the ancestors of the Aztecs who began to domesticate it when they discovered agriculture nearly 9,000 years ago. When the conquistadors arrived on the new continent, corn already had more or less the shape it has today! Then, when corn was brought back to Europe, different varieties were born, and the plants adapted to the climates of each region.


Man-made vegetables: Carrots

It would be hard to believe that the carrots we see today do not look like natural ones. It was not orange. This carrot is derived from a yellow carrot. The oldest ancestor of the carrot is from Persia in the 10th century. According to some historical information, natural carrots are either purple or white and have small roots. The Persians cross-bred them. These well-known vegetables gradually evolved from yellow to orange in color. Even today, farmers breed carrots to improve their color, size, and flavor.

The carrot is a root; originally, it was much less pretty than the one we know today! The first carrots grew in the region that would correspond today to Afghanistan. Their root was fine and irregular, with a sour taste, far from what we know today! It was only by starting to cultivate it in fertile, sandy soil and in a moderate climate that the root began to grow, over generations, by adapting to the environment. Today, there are still wild carrots in Afghanistan.


Man-made vegetables: Eggplant

Yes, eggplant has changed a lot over the centuries! It is derived from a wild species, Solanum incanum, native to North Africa and the Middle East. The first mention of the cultivation of the plant dates back to 59 BC! The vegetable will grow gradually by selecting the plants, then lengthen from the fourteenth century!

We often use the adjective “natural” when referring to food to point it out and separate it from what we consider industrial or processed. Although this separation is an excellent way to guide our diet (the less processed food, the better), to say “natural” is wrong.

It is wrong because if natural is what comes from nature, practically nothing we eat today is natural, no matter how fresh or little processed it is. The fruits and vegetables we eat have little to do with what wild plants and trees would produce if expert hands did not cultivate them.

Most of them come from plant varieties developed based on crosses and improvements in the laboratory to obtain the properties that most benefit the farmer (resistance to drought or parasites, higher production) and the consumer (better flavor, a more attractive or lasts longer in the fridge without spoiling).


Man-made vegetables: Tomatoes

Tomatoes date back to 500 BC. They are native to South America. As early as 500 BC, the Aztecs used to cook and eat tomatoes. During that time, it looked different from its modern version. They were small and yellow in size. Later in the 16th century, a Spanish man brought tomatoes to Europe. From here, they spread to Britain, China, and Italy. The red tomatoes we eat today came into existence in the middle of the 20th century. Humans created modern tomatoes to improve their taste.

Originally from the Andean valleys (Peru), the wild ancestor of the tomato is a plant with tiny fruits the size of cherry tomatoes. Domesticated in Mexico, the Aztecs then developed new varieties. The first tomato arrived in Europe when the conquistadors brought it back in the 15th century. It first established itself in Spain and Italy, where it was baptized Pomodoro, meaning “golden apple” (or “apple of love”). First considered a toxic product, it remained a simple ornamental plant used to decorate gardens for three centuries.


Man-made vegetables: Cabbage

Also considered to be man-made veggies are green leafy salads like cabbage. However, this group has other foods, such as collard greens.

People first grew wild mustard plants for food in ancient Greece and Rome. These plants evolved into collard greens and kale with a distinct flavor through selective breeding. Depending on where the farmers sowed the greens, the flavors were different.

Larger-leafed mustard greens were first planted in gardens in the 1600s, leading to the eventual development of cabbage. Finally, Kohlrabi developed when these veggies had a stout stem. Ultimately, each of these vegetables belongs to the Brassica oleracea genus.

Most people concur that mustard greens were also the source of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. The huge flowering leaves developed into broccoli or cauliflower. Any plant with a bit of head was considered a Brussels sprout.

Long into the 20th century, many researchers still experimented with mustard greens.


Man-made vegetables: Raddish

The pretty white and pink radishes we like to bite into with a little salted butter would not exist without man’s intervention! Yes, initially, it was black radish, much stronger and much less sexy, that was consumed. But by dint of cultivation and selection, we created all kinds of radish varieties!

A unique vegetable radish, in ancient times, saved us from starvation, but these days it is undeservedly forgotten and rarely eaten. Even in Ancient Egypt, the root crop was one of the staple foods. In Rus’, hot lean dishes and cold stew on kvass were prepared from it, nourishing and toning in the summer heat.

Some modern residents of large cities do not even know about this vegetable. And absolutely in vain! The herbal product has a high nutritional value. Including it in your menu is recommended for those who want to eat healthy and healthy food. Our article offers to get acquainted with this precious vegetable crop closer.

The wild variety is found in Europe and Asia; the varietal radish is cultivated in vegetable gardens. It has yet to be known for sure where the radish came from. Presumably, it is Asia or Egypt. The Egyptians extracted valuable oil from radish seeds.

Brussels Sprouts

Man-made vegetables: Brussels sprouts
Brussels sprouts

It is thought that Brussels sprouts are related to Mediterranean kale. This is because they have a built-in resistance to limestone and salt. In addition, the sprouts need a long, cool growing season because they thrive in slightly chilly conditions.

They have been around far longer than the 13th century, when they were initially grown in Brussels, Belgium. Instead, the vegetable first appeared in Northern Europe around the fifth century.

As soon as they were planted in Brussels, word of them swiftly spread. They were given the name Brussels sprouts for the same reason.

The Brussels sprouts first appeared in writing in 1587, and in the 16th century, it is known that they migrated from the southern Netherlands to the cooler regions of Northern Europe.

Brussels sprouts first appeared in North America in the 18th century after French settlers introduced them to Louisiana. Although they were first planted in California in the 1920s, it wasn’t until the 1940s that they began to proliferate and gain even more popularity.

You should give Brussels sprouts another chance if you’re one of those folks who don’t like them.

A Dutch scientist named Hans van Doorn discovered what gave the vegetable its “bitter” flavor in the 1990s. Since then, businesses have interbred Brussels sprouts to lessen their bitterness.

The vegetable has greatly increased in popularity in recent years as a result. They achieved this by breeding low-bitterness and high-yield cultivars together, which undoubtedly had a positive effect.

The optimal growing conditions for Brussels sprouts are between 59 and 64 degrees Fahrenheit, and they are harvested from September through March. However, if you cultivate Brussels sprouts at home, you can harvest them a little after March since freezing the vegetables won’t harm them.


Man-made vegetables: Cucumber

Cucumber is the lowest calorie and most watery of vegetables, as it is 96% water. Cultivated cucumbers appeared in the hot countries of the East – India and China more than 6 thousand years ago. And in Europe, this vegetable appeared thanks to the British, who brought cucumber seeds from the West Indies.

Many scientists who have studied the history of the origin of the cucumber argue that its homeland must be sought in South Asia, where many peculiar forms of this plant are concentrated. Another secondary center of cucumber culture diversity is in Japan.

A detailed analysis of the biological characteristics of modern cucumber species and the natural and climatic conditions of Asian countries leads scientists to conclude that the part of India located north of the Ganges River best meets the requirements for the growth and development of this plant. However, in India, cucumber remains a minor crop. Moreover, local varieties still need to be fully cultivated and have signs of their wild ancestors.

The cucumbers we know today have existed for 3,000 years and are man-made hybrids. It is believed that cucumbers originated in India. It was bred from a wild tree. These wild cucumbers still exist today. The Romans cultivated cucumbers strategically, which helped mold them into their current shape. Then, the tree was introduced to Europe, where it continued to be bred by the English, French, and Spanish. As a result, it has many varieties even today.

Collards Green / Kale

Man-made vegetables: Kale
Collard greens / Kale

People in the Mediterranean began cultivating wild mustards around 2,500 years ago for consumption. The larger-leafed mustard varieties the Greeks and Romans cultivated eventually gave rise to kale and collard greens. Through the 1600s, this selective breeding continued.

Ancient Romans and Greeks participated in selective breeding by sowing seeds from wild mustards with larger leaves after quickly realizing they could plant them for food. The outcome was the creation of veggies, kale, and collard greens.

All these vegetables come from the same plant, wild mustard. But, as you can see in the illustration, these vegetables were created by man, modified by a selection of the stem, the leaves, the flowers, etc.


Man-made vegetables: Potatoes

Yes, potatoes are also manmade vegetables. The potato plant (Solanum tuberosum) is an herbaceous evergreen plant that produces edible tubers that grow underground. It is a member of the Solanaceae family. Potato plant prefers slightly acidic, well-drained, and fertile soil. Potato plants produce red, white, pink, purple, or blue flowers at the end of the growing season (3-4 months after planting).

The potato tuber is initially less round than the varieties in the supermarket today. The shapes of the potatoes could be very diverse, but they were selected to create more “pretty” plants and, therefore, more easily sold. And, of course, different varieties were made with varying taste properties depending on what you want to do with them. This is why we find mashed, fried, and boiled potatoes.


Man-made vegetables: Garlic

Garlic is one of the most popular vegetable crops around the world. Since ancient times, it has been valued as a healthy vegetable and fragrant seasoning and an effective tool for preventing and treating diseases. In addition, it is straightforward to grow – it is not capricious and works well even for beginner gardeners.

Garlic has evolved thanks in part to human intervention. Over 6,000 years ago, farmers in ancient India domesticated the Allium longicuspis. These Indians tried to develop a more straightforward form of the plant after quickly realizing its medical properties. In the end, garlic was created. But garlic that has been grown is sterile. To produce more, researchers and farmers must physically propagate the plant.


Man-made vegetables: Soy

They originated most likely from the Glycine soja legume and date to 7,000 BC in China. Most scientists concur that the soybean was first developed by Chinese farmers using the seeds of the Glycine soja.

Most likely, this process started in 2,000 or 1,000 BC. In the third century, these beans were used to produce soy. For example, farmers in Asia use these ingredients to make tofu and soy milk. However, in the present era, this meal has more genetic alterations. Over 82% of the soybeans grown in the United States result from genetic alterations, according to scientific data.


Like vegetables, there are numerous artificial fruits. For instance, even modern strawberries and modern bananas are man-made fruits that are a hybrid of two different products. You might be shocked to learn how many fruits and vegetables are produced artificially.

Keep in mind that some grains and nuts also result from artificial selection. However, the majority of man-made meals enhance the flavor of the plant. For example, they also increase the variety of transformations made from a single fruit or vegetable. Be grateful for the knowledge possessed by scientists and farmers everywhere. For example, you wouldn’t be able to serve collard greens for dinner or a banana in the morning without their awareness.

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Gregory Knox
Gregory Knox

A certified nutritionist, father, and animal lover combines 13 years of veganism with his expertise in food and nutrition, offering readers a wealth of knowledge on plant-based diets and cooking.