Those of us who are city dwellers tend to be sheltered from anything going on in rural farm areas. We might love to eat chocolate or drink almond milk, but most of us don’t have any idea where the ingredients come from, or what they look like. These photographs give us an idea of what we’re missing out on, and hopefully, they’ll make us all want to know more.
Cashew nuts grow from the eponymous cashew tree. A yellow fruit, called a cashew apple, is produced from the tree, and the nuts grow out of it in a green shell. Humans can also eat the cashew apples, in the form of a fruit drink out of the processed pulp, or distilled liquor. If someone ever tells you that chocolate is not a fruit, make sure you tell them this.
Cacao beans are the seeds that grow inside huge pods that hang off of the sides of the cacao tree. When the beans are dried and fermented, they’re used in products, such as cocoa butter and chocolate. The trees come from Central America and Mexico and they have long economic and ceremonial history in the ancient civilizations of Columbia. Once you read this you’ll never look at trees the same way.
Cinnamon is an important spice in the world of desserts, drinks, and many other dishes. But most people don’t realize that the all too familiar powder is actually dried and ground tree bark. Cinnamomum trees can be found in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India, and Myanmar. The spice was being traded among people as early as 2000 BC. You may not know it, but this beautiful flower also produces trail mix.
Almonds are actually seeds that are produced from a pinkish white flower, out of the branches of an almond tree. An almond tree will grow a full crop of almonds in about three years. Almond trees thrive in the Mediterranean climate, and humans domesticated the tree species, in what is now Jordan, during the Bronze Age. You definitely won’t want to run through a field of these.
Pineapples are from the Bromeliaceae family and grow on cactus-like, tropical plants. It may surprise you to find out that pineapples are actually berries. Pineapples are native to South America but were introduced to Europe by Columbus. During the early 19th-century, they were brought to Asia. Today, pineapples are a very important crop to countries like Thailand and the Philippines Can you guess what this next fruit is named after?
The flowers of the dwarf shrub produce cranberries. The fruit, which is larger than the actual leaves, begins as a green color, but turn red when they’re ripe. People believe that the Algonquin nations in New England would use cranberries for food and dye. Cranberries were given their name because the flower resembles the head, bill, and neck of a crane. You’ll have to practice patience if you want to grow this next plant.
Pistachio seeds grow from the trees of the cashew family. The trees are planted in large orchards, but it takes somewhere in between seven to ten years for them to reach high production levels. It could take up to 20 years for maximum production levels to be reached. They come from Central Asia, and were first grown in current day Iraq, Uzbekistan, and Syria. Where this next fruit comes from will shock you!
Kiwis, also referred to as Chinese gooseberries or Kiwifruits, are the berries of flowers that grow on woody vine plants. Even though their name says different, kiwis are actually native to North-Central and Eastern China. They weren’t introduced to New Zealand until the early 20th century, where they were produced commercially. Not everyone likes to eat this next one, but it’s definitely neat to look at.
Artichokes are a thistle species, which is a plant that produces prickly leaves. Artichokes can be eaten, but only during the period where the flowers haven’t bloomed yet. As soon as the buds bloom, they become a bit coarse and barely edible. Evidence says that the ancient Greeks and Romans used artichokes as food. You can thank the ancient Mexicans for this next ingredient.
Vanilla beans actually come from an orchid, but they don’t grow from the actual flower. Vanilla grows in long pods, and kind of look like small bananas. They reach maturity at around five months, and are then harvested and cured. Vanilla orchids are native to Mexico, but were first cultivated in present-day Veracruz by the Totonac people. You never guess that something so salty would grow out of something so sweet.
Capers can be found on the Flinders rose bush, which is a perennial. And they’re actually flowers that never bloom. The bush will also grow white flowers with fruit, that are called caper berries. The berries can be pickled and eaten. It’s not quite clear where the bush came from, but they’re found all over the world from the Mediterranean to Australia. The next crop might be little, but it has been around for a very long time.
Sesame seeds come from the benne plant. and grows inside the buds that sprout from the plant. The plant was domesticated more than 3000 years ago and is one of world’s oldest crops. Most sesame species are native to Sub-Saharan Africa, but they were first grown in India. Sesame seeds are used for oil production and are used in dishes from all over the world. You probably don’t really care for the next one.
Brussels sprouts are actually a type of cabbage that grows along the sides of a thick, long stalk. Even though they started out in the Mediterranean, Brussel sprouts made their way to norther Europe as early as the 5th century! But they were cultivated and popularized in Belgium, which is where they got their name. This next spice a very long history.
Saffron is a spice that is used in European, Indian, Arab, and Persian meals. It’s taken from the red thread of the crocus flowers, before they’re dried and sealed. Saffron has been around for 4000 years, and has been found in Assyrian writings from the 7th century. Currently. 90% of the world’s saffron production comes from Iran. Check out this favorite snack that grows under the ground!
Peanuts are a legume crop that’s really only grown for its edible seeds. The plant itself is a leafy, small shrub that has bright yellow flowers. The peanut seeds are found growing off the roots. During harvest, the entire plant is taken out of the soil and inverted. That allows the peanuts to dry before they’re separated from the bush.