The History Behind Your Favorite Summer Fruits
Many of the fruits we enjoy as Americans went through quite a journey to become the important gastronomical delights they are today. From tomatoes to grapes, every piece of produce has a little slice of history.
Food undoubtedly shapes culture and who we are as a nation, so it is important to understand history as a budding chef in online culinary courses. Here are some of the top summer fruits we all know and love, and their fascinating backstories.
According to Texas A&M University, the tomato plant was actually thought to be poisonous for centuries, perhaps because of its short shelf life. Although these fruits originated in the Americas, they were originally only used as decorative plants. All of that changed after colonization. Italians brought the plants back to their home country and were the first Europeans to cultivate and eat tomatoes, and the rest is history. Today, they are an intricate part of the Western diet – it’s hard not to find at least one tomato hiding in a summer salad!
This large, juicy fruit has become a must-eat dessert at 4th of July barbecues and is practically on display all summer long at farmers markets and grocery stores. However, did you know that watermelon’s history dates back to ancient Egypt? In fact, according to the Discovery Channel, King Tutankhamen actually took watermelon seeds with him to the afterlife. However, Israelites also ate these delicious fruits, and melons were even mentioned in the Bible.
The peach hails from Georgia (the U.S. state, not the country), but the origins of this fruit are actually rooted in China. Tradesmen brought peaches – along with many other items – along the Silk Road. However, the Spanish were the first to cultivate peach trees in Florida. Franciscan monks then introduced the trees on the St. Simons and Cumberland islands off the Georgia coast. Even though this Southern state loved peaches, it wasn’t until the boll weevil destroyed millions of acres of cotton in the 1920s that peaches became a viable cash crop in the American South.
What American kid doesn’t know the story about George Washington and the cherry tree? Although these ruby red, bite-sized fruits are an American favorite, they actually originated in Anatolia – what is now modern-day Turkey. The English were actually the first to bring cherries to the New World, but now the U.S. produces more cherries than any other nation on earth, according to the Discovery Channel.
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