From Roots to Leaves: 30 Fascinating Facts About Vegetables

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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.”

2. You can’t find broccoli in the wild since it was created by humans by selectively breeding it from wild cabbage.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

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President Ronald Reagan once attempted to consider ketchup a vegetable to make up for budget cuts to school lunches.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. Peanuts start out as flowers above ground. They then wilt, and the remaining peg goes back into the ground and turns into a peanut.

10. Raisa Gorbachev once told a British minister there were more than 300 ways to cook potatoes in the USSR. When he had doubts, she sent him a cookbook and a note saying, “My apologies for being somewhat inaccurate: in fact, there are five hundred, rather than three hundred, recipes to cook potatoes.”

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Cockroaches won’t eat cucumbers. This is due to a chemical in cucumbers (trans-2-nonenal) which acts as a natural repellent for ants and roaches.

12. Wales’ national symbol is a leek because, on the eve of the battle against the Saxons, St. David advised the Britons to wear leeks in their caps so as to easily distinguish friend from foe. This helped to secure a great victory.

13. Broccoli, parsley, Brussels sprouts, and red bell peppers all contain more vitamin C per 100g serving than oranges. Chili peppers contain 400% more.

14. Scientists recreated a 9th-century onion and garlic eye remedy from an Anglo-Saxon manuscript and found that it killed 90% of antibiotic-resistant staph bacteria (MRSA).

15. Potatoes have a bad rap but are actually highly beneficial to your health. They are packed with Vitamin C, Potassium, Fiber, Vitamin B6 and Kukoamines which help aid in lowering blood pressure. In fact, scientists have found that humans can survive indefinitely on a diet of just potatoes and butter.

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16Bell Peppers

Bell Peppers

The difference in the color of green/yellow/red bell peppers comes from the different stages in their ripening process, not that they are different varieties.

17. Kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, and kohlrabi were all selectively bred from the mustard plant.

18. Near Frankfurt in central Germany, a type of cheese is served that is topped with raw onions. It is locally known as “hand cheese with music.” When strangers ask why it is called this way, they are told: “the music comes later.” This is a running gag pointing at the farts caused by the onions. Cheese is served in the water, and is pickled. It smells and tastes absolutely putrid.

19. Fenugreek contains an extremely potent aromatic compound called solotone and when consumed in heavy amounts, can prompt a sweet maple-y odor in sweat and urine.

20. Tomatoes, potatoes, paprika, peppers, and eggplant are part of a family called 'nightshade' foods, which contain a toxin called 'solanine.' Ingesting it in large quantities can cause hallucinations, paralysis, and death.



Mint isn’t just one species of plant, but it's a whole family of related plants known for having aromas in all parts and includes widely used culinary herbs, such as basil, rosemary, sage, oregano, thyme, marjoram, and lavender.

22. Many observant Buddhists avoid eating the “five pungent roots” (or "five pungent vegetables”) - onions, garlic, chives, leeks, and scallions - because they are thought to have an aphrodisiac effect that distracts them from meditation and other spiritual practices.

23. There exists a kind of garlic called “solo garlic” which doesn’t have separate cloves but is just one solid piece.

24. Children will, on average, eat 54% more fruits and vegetables if recess comes before lunch (versus the other way around).

25. About 40% of the corn grown in the USA is used for ethanol to add to fuel and another 40% is used for livestock feed.

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