When you stop to think about it, there are a lot of different foods with unique origins that we take for granted almost every day. Whether it be a spice from another region of the world, to the ingredients in your morning cup of coffee. Many of these foods come from regions where child labor, slavery, and unfair work environments tend to get overshadowed by production. Politics aside, this article is to inform the reader about various food plants and their historical/botanical origins.
These 12 photos will prove to all of us that we have no idea where some of our foods come from.
1. Sesame Seeds: Sesame is a flowering plant that is native to tropical regions near the equator. The countries that are the world’s largest producers of sesame seeds are India and Sudan. It’s one of the oldest oilseed crops known in all of humanity! It grows in large capsules, almost like peas, and is harvested for baked goods around the world.
2. Pistachios: Pistachios are members of the cashew family, and originate from growing regions in the world around Central Asia and the Middle East. The pistachio is actually the seed of the tree, which comes from a beautiful flower.
3. Vanilla: One of our favorite flavors actually comes from a flowering orchid plant! This species has been cultivated for centuries, and its origin roughly stems from the early Totonac people in Mexico, who are said to be the first to cultivate the plant. When the Aztecs took over the Totonac culture, they developed a taste for the plant and called it “The black flower” for it turns black shortly after cultivation
4. Kiwi: Kiwifruit grows on vines, like grapes! The fruit is a commercially grown crop from virtually everywhere in the world, including China, Italy, New Zealand, Chile, Greece, and France. The fruit is native to most of China, and the original name for the popular fruit was the “Chinese Gooseberry.”
5. Peanuts: Known for their edible seeds, many don’t realize that peanuts are actually quite a beautiful looking flower. The seeds are classified as an oil crop for its high oil content. In 2014, world production of the crop saw about 42 million tonnes grown and distributed. That’s a lot of nuts!
6. Brussels Sprout: The origin of this bizarre-looking plant famously comes from Brussels, Belgium, where the plant gained its name. It’s a relative of the cabbage family, but instead of growing closer to the ground, these pods grow upwards from the ground, ‘sprouting’ edible buds that we all have come to love (or hate.)
7. Almonds: The almond tree is a species of tree native to the Middle East and parts of North America. The seed itself grows in the fruit of the tree, called a drupe, which is a hard shell that grows around the almond, which is not actually a seed. Believe it or not, almonds are more closely related to peaches than actual nuts.
8. Cinnamon: This spice comes from the inner bark of trees called Cinnamomum. This spice has been around for so long, it was first recorded in history to be imported into Egypt as early as 2000 BCE. This aromatic can be seen in cultures and history from around the world. Just think – now we snort it for fun to make viral videos on the internet!
9. Saffron: There’s a reason why this spice is so expensive! Saffron which comes from the flower “Saffron Crocus” is carefully harvested by hand. Saffron grows and is cultivated from the West of Spain all the way to the East of India.
10. Cashews: These strange looking fruits are actually cashews from a cashew tree. This tropical evergreen tree produces these large cashew seeds and cashew apples. Not only do people consume the cashew nuts worldwide, believe it or not, the cashew apple can also be used to make a sweet fruit drink or even liquor!
11. Coffee: This marvelous plant has been around since the earliest record histories. Legend has it that the Oromo people in Kaffa in Ethiopia were believed to be the first to recognize the caffeine effects in the plant, but this has yet to be proven. Coffee comes from the cherry of a Coffea plant, where the coffee bean is harvested from the inside, and later roasted to make your familiar cup of joe. There are several growing regions for coffee around the world, including Latin America, Africa, and the Asia-Pacific regions. The plant grows closest to the earth’s equator.
12. Chocolate: The cacao bean is the dried and fermented seed of the Cacao, from which cocoa butter and chocolate come from. There is a long and convoluted process of growing and manufacturing chocolate, but mainly chocolate comes from these strange looking seed pods that grow in hot rainy climates near the equator.