These “Natural” Foods Were Actually Man-Made

Nowadays, health enthusiasts admonish against “man-made” foods that are processed with artificial sweeteners and preservatives. But most modern-day fruits and vegetables are man-made. Some of them rely so much on mankind that, if we stopped planting them, they would cease to exist.

Many of our everyday foods–almonds, collard greens, and wheat–were carefully bred by farmers thousands of years ago. Because it happened back in 6500 BC, most people forgot about selective breeding. But we didn’t. Here are “natural” foods that were originally made by humans.

Bananas Would Go Extinct If We Stopped Planting Them

A woman with a banana demonstrates outside Warsaw's National Museum to protest against censorship
JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP/Getty Images
JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP/Getty Images

Like the peanut, bananas are also a cross-breed. Over 10,000 years ago, two wild banana species existed: the Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana. The Musa balbisiana has sweet, tough inner flesh with too many seeds. The Musa acuminata had a soft inside with a gross taste.

Early farmers in South Asia cross-bred the plants to create the modern banana. But there was one problem: Since bananas don’t have seeds, they’re sterile. Farmers discovered that they could replant the shoots to sprout new trees. However, this means that if we stop planting bananas, they will go extinct.