By PAK L. HUIDE
August 27, 2017
“We exist because of the food we eat, but the food we eat exists because of us.”
Almost nothing we eat today exists in nature.
Take this carrot for example. Yes, this is a carrot. A wild one in fact, and possibly quite close to what the Ancient Persians had in the BCEs. This carrot is bitter, dry and woody, its roots supplying just enough nutrients in case times got rough.
Mother nature provided the prototype but humans formed the final product.
Early carrots were grown for their leaves and seeds, much like their relatives the dill and fennel. But somewhere along the line, someone decided it would be much more fun to chew on its roots instead. So after a few odd centuries of furiously clicking the skill tree, this is what we find in 6th century Constantinople.
To other carrots, this carrot looks about as natural as the homunculus.
This is what would happen if our alien overlords decided that human lips and palms were a delicacy.
But the carrot is not the only plant to have hulked up. The makeover from wild maize to modern corn is all the more startling.
Yet gruesome deformities are not the only things we have granted our veggie brethren, as the bananas and watermelons of the world would attest.
This painting of a watermelon was done as recently as the 17th century. The swirls of seeds might be neat to look at, but I imagine people found it a nuisance to eat. Because just a few hundred years later, humans created a true abomination:
The seedless melon has literally no reason to exist. It violates the first rule of life: procreation. It lives to die. It lives to be consumed. It lives to serve humanity. And because it is such an evolutionary dead end, its fate is entirely bound to the fate of humans.
The same goes for bananas.
Animals weren’t spared from this human engineering. Cattle is crucial to our modern society, be it for meat, for labor or for milk. But few know that the wild ancestor to all modern cattle, the Auroch, actually went extinct a long time ago. But its domesticated descendants live on, forever chained to humans for their survival. Natural selection has selected the Auroch right into our cattle pens.
Nowadays, the mighty Auroch ambles on in the depictions of civilizations past, like on this seal from the Indus river valley civilization.
Pigs are another example. The European medieval pig was half-pig half-hog. They were black and slim and much too cool for sties. Only half domesticated, they scurried around the forest floor and scavenged their own food by nosing through the thicket for acorns and the like.
It took the introduction of Chinese pigs, which were bred for weight and fat, to turn these lean European breeds into the beautiful meat cylinders that we know and love today.
We exist because of the food we eat, but the food we eat exists because of us.
Pak L. Huide is a writer at Quora!