The International Potato Center has successfully grown potatoes in a simulated Mars environment. They grew the plants in a CubeSat which mimicked the Martian air pressure and atmosphere and used saline desert soils analogous to Martian soils as the growing medium.
2. The Native Americans planted corn, beans, and squash together so that they would benefit each other. The corn provides a structure for the beans to climb. The beans provide the nitrogen to the soil that the other plants utilize, and the squash spreads along the ground preventing weeds. Together they were known as the Three Sisters.
3. About 95% of the world’s food needs are provided by just 30 species of plants. At least 12,650 names of edible species have been compiled so far.
4. Onions are the only commodity banned from futures trading in the United States. The Onion Futures Act was passed in 1958 a man named Vincent Kosuga acquired so much power that at one point he controlled 98% of onions in America. Farmers and buyers were so angry that Eisenhower banned the entire market.
5. Carrots are orange for political reasons. In the 17th century, Dutch growers cultivated orange carrots as a tribute to William of Orange. Before this, they were mostly yellow, white or purple.
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The reason Popeye eats spinach is because of an error in the calculation of its iron content by chemist Erich von Wolf in 1870. He misplaced a decimal point, recording iron as having 35mg of iron per 100g, instead of its true value of 3.5mg/100g. The former is equal to eating part of a paperclip.
7. The state of California produces half of the fruit and vegetables consumed in the US, as well as 99% of artichokes and walnuts and 95% of garlic. If California's economy were counted separately from the rest of the USA, it would be the fifth-largest economy in the world and agriculture constitutes only about 2% of California’s economy.
8. Some people greatly dislike coriander (cilantro), saying that it smells like soap and tastes like crushed bugs. This reaction has been linked to a set of genes in the human genome with up to 10% of the human population having this genetic disposition.
9. A drink made of ground orchid tubers named saloop was a popular 18th century alternative to coffee or tea until it became rumored to cure venereal disease. After that drinking it in public became shameful.
10. Before 1748 potatoes were considered hogs feed by French and the French Parliament banned cultivations as they thought potato plantations causes leprosy. Antoine Parmentier, a pharmacist changed all that through research and pioneering for potatoes to be accepted. He also placed armed guards around his potato fields, instructing the guards to accept all bribes and allow people to “steal” the crop. Similar strategies were followed by monarchs throughout Europe to encourage potato consumption.
Celery was a very popular food in the 1800s through the early 1900s. It was the third most popular menu ingredient in New York City restaurants, behind coffee and tea. The celery cost more than caviar because it was so hard to cultivate in those days.
12. Italy didn't have tomatoes, India didn't have peppers, and Ireland didn’t have potatoes until the Americas were discovered. That same is true for squash, maize, peanuts, and common bean.
13. Dry red kidney beans can be toxic if they are cooked in a slow cooker, which doesn't get hot enough to get rid of phytohemagglutinin, which can cause severe symptoms.
14. Jalapeño peppers and Chipotle peppers are the same pepper. Chipotle peppers are Jalapeños that have been aged to maturity, dried, and smoked.
15. Black Garlic is made by heating whole bulbs of garlic over the course of several weeks, a process that results in black cloves. The taste is sweet and syrupy with hints of balsamic vinegar or tamarind.
Cauliflowers grow so fast that sometimes you can hear the florets rubbing together. This sound is known as ‘cauliflower creak.’
17. In ancient Rome, one of the most common cooking ingredients was called “laser”, from the silphium plant. It does not exist today. It was so delicious that it was harvested to extinction from its natural habitat in what is now Libya. We think that it probably tasted something like garlic.
18. Oregano was practically unheard of in the U.S. until American G.I.s in WWII returned from Italy with a taste for the “pizza herb.”
19. You can’t find broccoli in the wild since it was created by humans by selectively breeding it from wild cabbage.
20. Tomatoes were put “on trial” on June 28, 1820, in Salem, New Jersey. In front of a courthouse, Robert Johnson ate tomatoes in order to prove they weren’t poisonous. The crowd waited for him to die but he didn't. Before that everyone in America used to think tomatoes were poisonous, due to them being a member of the nightshade family.
The reason beans actually give you gas is because of sugar found in beans called oligosaccharide that the body cannot fully break down. When these sugars move into the small intestine, bacteria that live there are able to successfully digest them, and it’s them that produce the gas.
22. Per kilogram, in the USA, asparagus has a larger carbon footprint than pork or veal. This is because of carbon emissions from transportation. Much of asparagus in the USA comes from Peru.
23. President Ronald Reagan once attempted to consider ketchup a vegetable to make up for budget cuts to school lunches.
24. The same chemical which gives beets their “earthy” taste is also partially responsible for the smell that occurs when rain falls after a long dry spell.
25. In 1986 a California farmer named Mike Yurosek was unhappy that he was unable to sell his imperfect carrots. So he cut and shaved them into cuter versions and called them “baby-cut” carrots. Before the invention of the baby carrot, each American ate 6 lbs of carrot a year, now they eat 11 lbs a year.