Wars would probably end a lot quicker if combatants just sat down and enjoyed a nice meal together. Because, aside from the fact that we need it to survive, food brings people together. But if we’re being honest, some food can look downright bizarre — and somewhat inedible — during the cultivation process. Don’t believe it?
For these 21 fruits and veggies, their initial form looks a bit different from what you wind up buying at the supermarket… and when you see how your favorite fruits and veggies grow in the wild, you might think twice before snacking down again anytime soon!
1. This spiny white object looks like a vicious parasite, but it’s actually a source of one of the most delicious foods in the world: chocolate! Before undergoing fermentation, the pulp inside this cacao bean supposedly tastes like lemonade.
YouTube / Salud Book
2. Before a side of cranberry sauce makes it to your Thanksgiving dinner, it sprouts in a bog of all places. Cranberry shrubs float on the surface of the water, and farmers climb in to harvest them. They are literally up to their knees in work!
3. What’s with all these red fibers? Did the entire Weasley family just get their hair cut? In reality, these are freshly picked quinoa plants, which grow in vibrant colors. Of course, we only eat their seeds, which don’t have much color or flavor.
4. Believe it or not, this picture was not photoshopped. Many farmers in Asia use cubic molds to grow square watermelons. These strangely shaped fruits are much easier to transport than their round counterparts (but just as delicious)!
5. Who knew that asparagus grew in stalks straight out of the ground? It looks a lot like a graveyard at the start of a zombie movie! Even spookier, eating asparagus gives your urine a distinct odor.
Old Farmer’s Almanac
6. It’s hard to recognize at first glance, but this alien monstrosity is just a banana flower. The fruit we all know and love comes from the rings of stalks around the flower, though the blossom itself is also edible. Try it in a salad sometime!
7. Don’t go nuts trying to figure out what this plant is. It’s a cashew tree! We typically only eat the bottom part of the fruit, though the top ‘cashew apple’ section is also edible. Some cultures make it into alcohol because humankind will always go out of its way to find new ways to get sloppy.
8. Jimmy Carter would certainly appreciate these root plants, seeing as he used to be a peanut farmer. That’s right, peanuts actually grow underground on the roots of the plant! That’s one of the reasons why they’re technically legumes — like soybeans and chickpeas — and not nuts.
Seminole Crop E News
9. Brussels sprouts are already pretty divisive, so it’s a good thing that most people don’t know they grow on stalks. The buds on these plants are essentially miniature cabbages and must be removed from the stalk before you can cook them.
Flickr / cellphonesusie / cjmartin
10. A ton of people can’t even start their day without these berries — once they’re dried, ground up, and brewed, that is. These cherries came straight from a coffee plant, and the seeds inside them are responsible for the preferred drink of workaholics and jazz fans across the world.
11. No disrespect to Spongebob Squarepants, but pineapples don’t really grow under the sea. They sprout as the “berry” of the low-lying pineapple plant. Though this fruit is everywhere today, they used to be such a luxury that just having a pineapple in the 1700s was a symbol of wealth and power.
12. This kaleidoscopic vegetable is just as fun to eat as it is to look at. Known as Romanesco, it’s a cousin of broccoli and cauliflower native to Italy. Its appearance is so striking that it even cameoed as an alien food in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Flickr / Duncan C
13. They may not look like much, but these plants produce one of the most versatile foods known to man. Ginger roots give off a hot, sweet flavor, and they are great for candy, tea, stir-fries, and houses — at least of the gingerbread variety.
14. These flowers are clearly going through some kind of punk phase. But most foodies are more concerned with what’s directly underneath them: artichokes! For the most part, we eat the heart of the flower, picked before it has a chance to bloom.
Flickr / Henk Kosters
15. Have you ever seen hippie broccoli before? Well, you don’t have to go all the way to Woodstock to find this flower power veggie. The yellow blossoms here aren’t unusual at all, as broccoli florets are just closed flower buds.
The Botanist in the Kitchen
16. They may look like green beans, but what we’re dealing with here is actually vanilla! This plant is quite difficult to maintain, which makes vanilla one of the most expensive spices. So think twice before shoving a big handful of these pods into an ice cream cone.
17. Hummus fans will appreciate this plant because the green pods below contain delicious chickpeas. Each seedpod contains a handful of the beans, and the leaves are also edible. Pita bread sold separately!
18. You might think you’ve stumbled into a winery, but those aren’t grapes on those vines. They’re kiwifruits! If you want to avoid confusion with the flightless bird, you can also call this fruit a “Chinese gooseberry.”
Flickr / Robert Newell
19. This bizarre-looking tree is responsible for persimmons, one of the more underappreciated fruits out there. Though they look like small tomatoes, persimmons pack a unique, sweet flavor like nothing else around.
Wikimedia Commons / Geomr
20. Would you like to take a leek? Maybe we should explain ourselves — these flower pom-poms grow on the tops of leeks, a vegetable in the onion family. Unfortunately, the emergence of these flowers typically means that the edible stalk is overripe.
YouTube / Every Day Is A Journey
21. If you crack open the woody pods growing on this tree, you’ll experience some real almond joy. Not unlike olive trees, almond trees need to mature for a few years before they produce any crop. But it’s definitely worth the wait!
These fruits and veggies start out way different than what shows up on your dinner plate. (Note: reading this article does not count as a full serving of vegetables)!
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