Foods That Don’t Grow The Way We Imagined

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Do you ever think about where your food comes from? We don’t blame you if you don’t. Many of the foods we eat are grown in ways that we couldn’t even believe...

We live in a world where we constantly have food on tap. Not literally, of course. While it would be pretty cool to turn on the faucet and have candy stream out of it, scientists are focusing on more important things right now. With a growing population and hungry humans, there is always going to be a need for food. Some of this food can be made in factories, but even still, many of the ingredients need to be grown or bred. After all, you can’t make cranberry juice without the cranberries, and you can’t make burgers without the beef! 

There are so many foods being grown across the world as we speak, but have you ever stopped to think about these foods and how they are being cultivated? Well, we don’t blame you if you haven’t. It’s not something we think of every single day, because we buy most of our food from the store without any information about where it has come from. Of course, if you do want to know where they come from, you might be surprised to know that some foods grow in unbelievable ways. 

Cashews

If you’re wondering why we decided to throw in a picture of Mario from Super Mario Bros., then you’re unfortunately mistaken. Looks pretty similar though, right? This bizarre photograph actually shows the growing process of a cashew nut. Not only do they grow on trees, but these nuts also grow from the bottom of the cashew fruit!

Often called the cashew apple, this fruit grows on the cashew tree before the nut, and then the nut slowly but surely follows behind. When the fruit is ripe, it will fall to the ground, and then the cashew nut can be harvested. While some people do also eat the cashew apple, it rots pretty quickly, so you have to act fast.

Peanuts

It’s time to backtrack on anything you ever knew about peanuts because they aren’t what they seem! While we assumed that peanuts grow on trees like many other nuts in the world, the life of a peanut is very different. That’s because a peanut isn’t technically a nut.

Nope, it’s actually categorized within the legume family, which means that it shares a family with the likes of lima beans and kidney beans. Because of this, they are grown like beans beneath the ground, while the flowers bloom above the ground. When they are ready to be harvested, farmers simple pull on the plant and release the peanuts below.

Dates

We all love a date, right? We’re not talking about the kind of date that involves a dinner and a show - although that’s pretty fab, too. We’re talking about the sweet fruit that you’ve probably got in your pantry right now. Dates are extremely popular fruits, but what you might not realize is that they are actually grown on palm trees!

You probably won’t see any dates sprouting out of the palm trees in Beverly Hills anytime soon, but the date palm can be found around Northern Africa, South Asia, and the Middle East. Dates grow to be a beautiful yellow color, but begin to turn brown and shrivel up as they ripen.

Cantaloupes

There’s a high chance that you’ve never really thought long and hard about cantaloupes, and we don’t blame you. While they may be delicious, they don’t seem like the most interesting of fruits. Yet, it seems as though they do have one interesting fact about them.

Although many people believe that these fruits are grown in trees, they are actually grown on the ground. You know, like a pumpkin. They normally nestle themselves in between their leaves and roots and soon become the talk of the town when they get larger and larger. In the end, there’s no ignoring them.

Brussels Sprouts

Most people buy brussels sprouts in bags of individual sprouts, so this picture is a little alarming. What’s going on? Well, by looking at this photograph, it might not surprise you to learn that brussels sprouts and cabbage come from the same family. In fact, that’s why the flowering plant of the brussels sprout stalk looks just like a cabbage.

Beneath the flower is a large, thick stalk that buds into smaller sprouts. Farmers often leave the sprouts on the stalk, but more often than not, they will pluck the sprouts so that they can be taken home by hungry customers in the grocery store.

Wasabi

There are two kinds of people in this world. There are those who can take the pungent spice of wasabi, and there are those whose eyes water at the thought of it. While we may be in the latter group, there’s no denying the fact that this fact has blown our minds.

Although most people eat wasabi in a paste or powdered form, fresh wasabi can be found in the form of a root. It’s often grown in moist areas - such as on the edge of rainforests or the base of mountains - and needs the right balance of water, sunlight, and temperature to thrive. When grown in bulk, these wasabi farms could be mistaken for beautiful gardens.

Pineapple

Are you sitting down? You’re not likely to fall over, are you? Because we’re gonna hit you with some home truths that may surprise you. For starters, did you know that a pineapple is actually a berry? If you want to be specific, pineapples are actually categorized as cluster berries. As if that wasn’t enough to wet your whistle, pineapples don’t grow on trees.

Although you may have spent your whole life thinking that these fruits do grow from tall trees, the reality is actually the exact opposite. These fruits grow out from the center of its plant and are surrounded by palm-like leaves. Is your mind suitably blown?

Artichokes

Artichokes are the kind of vegetables that you don’t really buy on a regular basis because they just look a little too fiddly. However, they are pretty tasty! We bet you didn’t know how they are grown, though? Don’t worry, we didn’t either. Artichokes grow on the side of beautiful and strange plants that lie within the thistle family.

Because of this, the flowers are spiky and weird, but also pretty mystifying. The trick with this plant is that you need to catch the flower before it blooms because this is the vegetable that many people like to add to their weekly menu.

Paprika

You’re probably familiar with paprika. In fact, you could probably tell us when you last used paprika in your cooking. It’s a hugely common spice, but some people have absolutely no idea where it comes from. Unlike many other spices, paprika does not come from seeds that are grown on flowers or trees.

Instead, this spice is made from dried and ground-up red peppers. These peppers come from the same family as the bell pepper, which means that you could technically make your own paprika! You know, if you have the time and energy to do so. If not, you can buy it, no problem.

Chickpeas

Common sense would suggest that chickpeas grow in pods like their regular pea neighbors. However, common sense has failed us on this occasion. While chickpeas do grow in pod-like structures, they are not filled with a multiple peas that are all stacked together in one pod. Instead, each pod features one chickpea, and it’s not your average pod.

This one is green and velvety and looks more like a kiwifruit than a legume. The pods are much larger than the chickpea inside, which means that they are protected at all times. They are then dried and cooked before making their way onto the shelves. How weird is that?

Brazil nuts

Nuts are pretty nuts, right? Different nuts grow in all kinds of different ways, and Brazil nuts are no different. Instead of growing separately on a tree, these nuts are actually grown within a large coconut-type shell on an Amazon nut tree. It’s the job of harvesters and growers to knock down these large coconut-type shells and then open them up.

If they’ve knocked down the right fruit - and not an actual coconut - they will be able to see around 18 - 20 Brazil nuts inside this spherical phenomenon! These Brazil nuts are then dried before they are shipped off and eaten by hungry humans around the world.

Asparagus

If you have ever thought that asparagus was a boring vegetable that made your what-sit smell, then it’s time to think again. Asparagus is a pretty cool vegetable that has a few strange characteristics. Most notably, you just can’t kick it out of the party! Asparagus is a perennial plant, which means that it will continue to grow even after you’ve cut it.

Instead of growing as part of a pack, these plants like to go solo. They sprout up from the ground as a single tree-like structure, and they don’t change in the slightest before they make their way to your plate. However, it’s important to grow asparagus properly, as they can grow berries when they over-grow. These berries are toxic, so it’s best to avoid them...

Leeks

Who doesn’t love a good leek? As part of the onion family, leeks are closely related to the likes of spring onions, shallots, garlic, and chives. So, all the good stuff that makes your breath smell a little funky!

Although it might not surprise you to learn that leeks grow beneath the ground and have leaves that fall down above the soil, what you might not realize is that leeks also sprout beautiful flowers. Wild leeks will often sprout this stunning purple flower when they are overgrown, as these flowers let growers know that they have grown a little too large.

Capers

While there are some people who can take or leave capers, there are others who love to add these bad boys into their dishes. That’s because capers can (quite literally) spice up your food, and contribute a certain tang that some people just can’t get enough of. Yet, did you know that capers were actually grown on the caper bush?

The plant creates beautiful white and pink flowers, and the tiny buds are notoriously difficult to pick because they are just so small. Once the capers are picked, they are then pickled or brined in vinegar or salt to give it its distinctive taste.

Mustard

When you dollop mustard on your hot dog, do you ever think about where it comes from? It’s easy to believe that mustard is just something that lands up in your pantry without any real effort, but that’s not the case. That’s because your mustard once grew on a mustard plant!

Yes, these beautiful yellow plants can be found across the globe, and they all feature tiny little seeds that are then made into the mustard we know and love today. Mustard manufacturers ground these mustard seeds together before mixing them with ingredients such as water and vinegar. When it’s been ground into a tasty paste, it’s ready to go!

Black Pepper

You thought you knew everything there was to know about pepper, right? The peppercorns grow on a tree and are then crushed up to form granules, correct? Well, you’re actually not far off the mark. However, what you might not know is that black pepper is the flowering vine that the peppercorn fruits grow on. Yes, peppercorns are a fruit!

The pepper that we put on our food is created when this fruit is dried and then ground up. Of course, you can also eat the individual corns, but that might make your eyes water. Don’t say that we didn’t warn you.

Cocoa beans

Most people know that chocolate is made from cocoa beans, but there’s a high chance that you didn’t know the specifics. That’s because there is so much more to the cocoa bean than we give it credit for, and it’s actually pretty weird. To get the gist of the chocolate-making process, we have to go back to the start.

The process would be nothing without the Theobroma cacao tree, which sprouts beautiful large pods in the form of the cocoa fruit. Inside this fruit, you’ll find a whole host of white seeds, and these are the cocoa beans! These beans are then roasted, fermented, and then made into chocolatey goodness.

Olives

It’s no secret that olives have always grown on trees because you can’t miss these distinctive fruits. Olive trees are recognized by their light-colored branches and trunks, but there’s also something even funkier about them. Because olive trees are often hundreds of years old, they often look as though they are pretty gnarly.

They have shrunken trunks, they have giant trunks, and they even have trunks that are twisted and scary. This does not affect the olives in any way, because they are highly resilient fruits that taste good no matter the circumstances. Of course, they are treated before making their way into stores.

Saffron

Are you up to date on your spices? If you are, you’ll know that saffron is something special. In fact, it’s the most expensive spice in the world! This spice is not only used in its raw form within various dishes, but it’s also used as a coloring to make other foods look extra awesome. However, have you ever wondered where saffron comes from and how it grows?

Well, this spice actually grows on the Crocus sativus plant. This plant offers a stunning purple flower that comes with yellow and crimson stigmata and styles. It’s the crimson threads that we’re after because these threads are the pots of gold that basically cost as much as gold.

Cranberries

Cranberries are berries, so they must grow on bushes, right? Well, get ready to have your mind blown. Cranberries actually grow on low-lying vines near to water sources. They thrive near marshes and boggy areas while in the midst of their growing season, and then things get pretty technical when they’re good and ready to go.

To yield their cranberries, farmers will flood these vines with a whole load of water to create pools of the fruit. This kind of wet harvesting helps to boost the color and the taste of the fruit, and then the growers use special tools and equipment to separate the cranberries from their vines. When they are free, they rise to the surface and are ready for the farmers to collect them. Pretty neat, huh?

Bananas

Everyone knows that bananas grow on trees, right? Well, that’s not technically true. While they do grow on extremely tall plants, they can actually be found around a flower spike. This isn’t just any ol’ flower, though. It’s a strange and bizarre flower that looks like something out of a sci-fi movie.

They grow just below the head of the flower, and they always grow in clumps. Yes, it seems as though they just love to grow with their pals, and don’t quite know the meaning of personal space. We bet they don’t mind, though, considering they are pretty yummy.

Coffee

When you think of coffee, there’s a high chance that you immediately think of coffee beans. After all, everyone knows what coffee beans look like. However, do you know where these coffee beans come from? Rather than growing on trees on their own, these beans are actually encased in a beautiful red fruit that looks pretty similar to a cherry!

These fruits are often called coffee cherries and grow on the prongs of small trees and bushes. Each coffee cherry normally contains two coffee seeds, that lie back to back to look like one giant bean. When harvested, many growers also utilize the fruit to brew into teas.

Cloves

You may not have intentionally tried cloves before, but you may have accidentally eaten them without really realizing it. That’s because cloves are often used in Eastern-inspired dishes, as they not only add an extra taste, but they also add an amazing aroma. Most people assume that cloves are spices, but we’re here to bust that myth.

Instead, cloves are dried flower buds from the Syzygium aromaticum tree. If growers were to leave these buds, they would open up into stunning and delicate flowers. However, if they are caught before they open, they create the cloves many of us know and love.

Avocados

We don’t quite know where we thought avocados were grown, but we definitely didn’t think they would grow on trees. We assumed they would grow on low-to-the-ground bushes or on vines, and not giant trees across the globe! Nevertheless, we have since eaten our hats and resigned to the fact that we knew nothing about avocados.

What’s so peculiar about these fruits is that they don’t grow straight on the branch. Avocados hang from these branches with their own little branches, and they eventually fall when they are ready and ripe. Everyone loves a good avocado for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so the cultivation of this fruit has increased tenfold.

Kiwifruit

Let’s be honest, kiwis are pretty strange anyway. What’s even weirder is that there are people out there who will willingly eat the hairy skin. You know who you are. It might not surprise you to learn that kiwis are grown above the ground, but did you know that they are actually grown on vines? In fact, this fruit is grown in an extremely similar way to grapes.

To create the perfect kiwifruit yield, farmers have to try and get the male-to-female ratio just right. It’s been noted that one male vine for every three to eight female vines is enough to create the perfect kiwifruit plant. It’s then down to the wonderful bees of the world to work their magic and pollinate them all.

Rocket

Whether you know it as rocket or arugula, there’s no doubt about the fact that this plant is a staple in many homes. It’s one of the most common ingredients in a salad, thanks to its peppery taste. However, do you have any idea where it’s grown?

Instead of growing in clumps of leaves, this plant just kinda does its own thing. It grows across the ground in any which way it chooses, and it’s basically ready to be picked as soon as it starts poking out of the ground. Then, the rocket is simply packed away and shipped to grocery stores across the globe. Simple.

Papaya

Everyone loves a tropical fruit every now and then, which is why papaya is so popular. After all, who doesn’t love the sweet, sweet taste of this fruit? Although you probably had an inkling that papaya is grown on trees, you might not have known just how stubborn they are.

Rather than growing from the leaves or the roots like other foods, the papaya just loves to be different. It will only grow from the top of the trunk, but this does make papaya plantations pretty special to look out. With rows and rows of papaya all bunched together, they look good enough to eat!

Dragon Fruit

Although this fruit is technically called pitaya, we think that “dragon fruit” sounds so much cooler. As if the name wasn’t enough, this fruit is also one of the most interesting foods within the food spectrum. The outside appearance is strange, the inside appearance is weird, but the taste is truly something special.

What you might not have realized is that this fruit also grows in a pretty unique way. Dragon fruit is actually grown on a vining cactus, but rather than growing within the roots or the inner layer of the cactus, the pitaya grows on the end of the cactus leaf. We just knew it had to be different.

Vanilla

If you’ve bought vanilla recently, you’ll know that it’s pretty expensive. One of the main reasons for this is because it’s a bit of a nightmare to grow. That’s because vanilla is the fruit of an orchid, but pollinating this plant isn’t easy. There is only one type of bee that can pollinate this bad boy, and this bee can only be found in Central America and Mexico.

So, those who grow vanilla in other countries have to hand-pollinate their crops - and this can be pricey and time-consuming. The pods of the orchid are picked when they are still unripe because they are then scalded in hot water and left out to dry for a few months. This leaves you with the dark and dry pods you’re probably used to!

Turmeric

Turmeric is the kind of food that everyone loves to hate because it’s pretty darn perfect. Not only does it add a little something extra to your food, but it’s also known for being extremely healthy. After all, turmeric has been known to carry healing properties and is used for medicinal purposes around the world.

Yet, did you know that turmeric is actually a flowering plant? The flowers don’t serve any real purpose - poor guys - but the root holds all of the good stuff. The roots are extremely tuberous, but you don’t really know that until you scratch the surface and dig beneath the earth. That’s because the leaves are pretty ordinary.

Chia seeds

Everyone loves to live a healthy lifestyle, which is why you’ve probably bought chia seeds in an attempt to feel like you’re living your best life. Did it work? Well, at least you tried. You’ve probably never thought about where these chia seeds have come from, but we can confirm that they are grown on the Salvia hispanica plant.

Known more commonly as the chia plant, the beautiful and strange-looking purple flowers actually hold a secret. Hidden beneath the surface are tiny little seeds that are around 1mm in diameter. It’s these seeds that produce the goods, and it’s these seeds that can later be found in health food stores.

Broccoli

Is anyone else weirdly obsessed with broccoli? Because we are. Like many other vegetables that we know and love, the broccoli plant is related to the cabbage, and it’s also pretty economical. That’s because the flowering head and the stalk of broccoli can be eaten - which means that nothing goes to waste!

Of course, there is a little something that does make its way into the compost. Like cauliflower, these broccoli heads grow in the middle of dense leaves. They protect the stalk and offer another port of call for photosynthesis, and the picking process is pretty easy. You just have to cut off the stalk, after all.

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