History of some fruits and vegetables

Many of the fruits and vegetables written about on this page have grown in the wild for thousands of years. When people began to eat them as food they simply gathered the wild fruits and vegetables. Then, about 11,000 years ago people began to plant fruit and vegetables, to farm the plants and to care for them. The farmers experimented and grew new kinds of the wild fruits and vegetables.

Fruits and vegetables found growing in one part of the world were taken by explorers and traders to many other parts of the world. The fruits and vegetables were then planted and grown in many countries around the world. For example, it is believed that Christopher Columbus took pineapples to Spain from South America in the 1400s.

So where did the first fruits and vegetables of their kind come from?

First, some fruits:

In China, apricots were grown 4000 years ago and peaches over 2000 years ago.

The avocado is native to South America.

It is not known for certain where the lemon originated but India, Burma and southern China are the most likely places.

Pears grew wild in Britain.
Greece is one country where olives first grew.
Pineapples are native to Brazil.

Some vegetables:

Cauliflower comes from China, where they were about the size of a cricket ball.
Carrots are one of the world's most popular vegetables. But did you know that until about the 1600s carrots were purple?

The orange ones were grown in Holland and sold to other countries in the 1600s and 1700s.

Green beans were grown in North and South America.
Onions were grown in the Middle East thousands of years ago and slaves, building the pyramids in ancient Egypt (about 4000 years ago), ate onions, garlic and radishes.

The ancient Greeks cooked and ate wild asparagus about 2500 years ago.

The Romans grew parsnips and made them into stews and soup in Italy about 2300 years ago.
Potatoes originated in South America and were taken to England and Europe by explorer Francis Drake in the 1500s. At first people in England and Europe didn't eat the potatoes, they just grew the plant because they thought it looked pretty!
Spinach was first grown in Persia, which is now called Iran, at least 2000 years ago.
Sweet corn was given to explorer Christopher Columbus by the people of Cuba in the 1492. He took the plant back to Spain.

Tomatoes come from South America and Spanish explorers took them to Europe in the 1500s.


Is it fruit or vegetable? What is the difference between fruit and vegetables?
According to The Macquarie Dictionary, a vegetable is any plant whose fruit, seeds, leaves, stems, roots or tubers are used for food.

Fruit is the edible part of a plant that develops from a flower.

Go here to find a list of fruits and vegetables that we eat

Go here to read about fruit and why people should eat it

Go here and find a word search puzzle about vegetables in the word games box

Acknowledge this source in your bibliography like this:
History of some fruits and vegetables. (2003). [Online], Available:www.kidcyber.com.au


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January 2008 ©kidcyber