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History of Vegetables

Have you ever wondered about the history of vegetables?

We use veggies in our everyday cooking but their history is quite interesting and dates back thousands of years.

Beans

There are many different bean varieties and in fact the seeds have been used as food for eons. The bean might have originated in Asia or Africa and has been grown since pre-history. During the Bronze Age Swiss and Italians grew the plant. Meanwhile, the Greeks ate them and they’re mentioned in “The Iliad.” The ancient Egyptians also grew beans and the Romans used them in ceremonies. The vegetable was later introduced to other countries like Japan, China, and India.

Carrots

Carrots have become one of the most popular root crops in warm regions throughout the world. It was cultivated from the wild carrot that has colored roots. The orange root carrot was developed from yellow varieties. Writing in ancient Roman and Greek times refer to “white roots” that could be eaten. These could have been carrots and/or parsnips. Today white rooted carrots are often used as animal feed.

 

The earliest reference to the modern carrot is from the 900s in Persia/Asia Minor. It is believed the first carrots were purple or white and had a thin root. It’s believed that mutation took place that changed the purple carrots into yellow ones. Then those carrots were developed into today’s orange root crops.

Soy Bean

The soybean should definitely be included in a list of the history of vegetables. Yellow/black soy beans aren’t usually consumed as a main source of food, but instead as an additive of other food items. China has been growing soy plants since ancient times. It might have been mentioned in Confucius’ writings. Soy was introduced to North America Europe in the late 1800s However, in other countries like China and Japan the beans are cooked like other kinds of beans.

Beet

There are several kinds of edible beets including sugar beet, white beet, and red beet. Beets are one of the main human crops and have cultivated for eons. For example, the ancient Romans and Greeks grew them and even named some of the varieties. Beets were also grown in Britain during the 1100s. In the late 1500s there’s a reference to beets with “sugar.” Then by the mid 1700s the crop was used as a possible ingredient for sugar production. Trade embargoes that took place in the Napoleonic era resulted in French commercialization of beets into sugar.

Haricot Bean

The climbing Haricot bean is believed to originate in South America. It was introduced to Europe in the 1500s. There were no references to the vegetable plant in Ancient Rome or Ancient Greece. There’s no sign of the bean in pre-historic Europe. However, there are some signs of haricot beans in old burial sites in Peru.

Potato

This is the world’s 4thbiggest food crop following three grains: rice, wheat, and corn. The first people to cultivate potatoes were the Inca Indians in Peru. That was from 8000 BC to 5000 BC. The Spanish Conquistadores later transported the potato to Europe.