Fruits are pretty great. For early humans they served as delicious, calorie-rich foods, that could be easily collected and eaten without any preparation. It’s even been suggested, that the ability to distinguish between red and green was evolutionary selected for us, so that we can find fruits, and tell if they were ripe or not. Of course today, finding any fruit you want is as easy as going to the grocery store, and finding the right aisle. Many of us might not even realize, that fruits we eat might not come from the same country we live in, or even the same continent. In fact, many of our favorite fruits originated in entirely different landscapes and climates. And today, are grown thousands of miles away from our grocery stores. So, let’s take a look at the geography of our fruits. Starting us off, we have apples, which hail from the Central Asia region, around where the three countries of
China, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan meet. Its wild ancestor, malus sieversii,
is still found throughout this region, and China remains the #1 world producer,
accounting for 48% of the global apple production. The earliest records of apricots reach back to ancient Armenia – its scientific name is literally “Prunus Armeniaca”. Whether it originated here is disputed,
with some suggesting India and China. But its theoretical range includes all of these places,
and today, Uzbekistan is the top producer. Avocados, sometimes called “alligator pears”, originated in south-central Mexico, specifically in Tehuacan Valley. Evidence shows, locals have been eating the ancestors of avocado for up to 10,000 years. And to this day, Mexico remains the #1 producer in the world. Bananas in plantains, which are technically berries, got their beginnings in Indomalaya. The earliest record of their domestication likely comes from New Guinea, from up to 10,000 years ago as well. Despite this, India holds the title as the top producer, with China close behind. The genus blueberries belong to, vaccinium,
occur all around the North Pole. But the ones we eat today, come from North America, mostly the north- and eastern parts of the United States, and south-central Canada. So, it’s no surprise that the United States leads global blueberry production, with Canada coming in second. Okay, so cantaloupes are named after the town Cantalupo di Sabina in Italy. Where cantaloupes definitely did not originate from. But cantaloupe literally translates to “howling wolf”, and I just think that’s cool. As for where they came from,
no one really seems to know. Some say Persia, some say Afghanistan, and others say Armenia. Roughly, this area is agreed upon though. But today it’s China, that produces 51% of all cantaloupes. Cherries on the other hand, are native to Italy,
and all of Central Europe for that matter. Funnily enough, the name “cherry”
comes from outside of Europe: from the Norman “cherise”, from the Latin “cherisum”,
and from the ancient Greek region Kerasous, located in Turkey, where cherries were first imported into Europe from. And where they still do, as Turkey remains
the #1 producer of sweet cherries in the world. Clementines are a fairly new fruit, which arose as a hybrid between a mandarin orange and a sweet orange in the late 1800s. This spontaneous cross was actually observed by humans, as it literally happened in the garden of an orphanage, in the city of Misserghin, Algeria. The orphanage was headed by a Frenchman named Marie-Clement Rodiers, which is where the name “clement-tine” comes from. China, again, is the leading world producer today. Coconuts occur throughout tropical, coastal regions. Since they float in water, they’re easily and quickly dispersed across the oceans. Their huge range means they were actually domesticated on two entirely separate occasions. Once in the Indian Ocean, in Sri Lanka and the Maldives;
and once in the Pacific, in the Philippines and Indonesia. Today, Indonesia is still the greatest producer. The first people to harvest cranberries were Native Americans. Tribes like the Narragansett would use them both as food and dyes, in New England region. And the recipes for cranberry sauce were seen in pilgrim cookbooks, as early as 1663. So, it’s no surprise, that the US remains the top producer. Dates are some of the oldest cultivated fruits in the world, first found in the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt. Thought to have originated in Iraq around 50 million years ago, while the earliest evidence of cultivation comes from an archaeological site in Pakistan, from around 7000 BCE. Today,
Egypt is the world’s biggest producer. The fig has much the same range as the date palm, but is even older, with evidence of its cultivation and consumption reaching back 11,000 years, predating wheat and rye. Findings in the ancient village of Gilgal in the Jordan valley, place the domestication of figs around 9400 BCE. Suggesting, figs may have been the very first example of humans practicing agriculture, one thousand years, before the next crops were cultivated. Their biggest producer today,
Turkey, isn’t too far away either. Grapefruits (which are gross, and don’t taste anything like grapes), actually came from another cross between two citrus fruits. This time, the Jamaican sweet orange and the Indonesian pomelo. The cross occurred on the island of Barbados in the Caribbean, and were originally called “shaddocks”. Despite its origin of the tropical island, however,
today – once again, China is the #1 producer, accounting for 48% of all production. Geez China, relax. Grapes on the other hand, do taste good, and come from the Middle East where human agriculture first got started. The growing of grapes also led to the domestication of yeast, which very quickly led to the discovery,
and subsequent abuse, of alcohol. It’s actually unclear, what came first: the domestication of grapes, or the craft of wine-making. But both occurred around 10,000 years ago, in Georgia and Armenia. I’m sure you can guess the overall leader in grape production. But in terms of grapes used especially for wine, Spain leads the world. Guavas are a lesser-known fruit, but they’re pretty amazing, so I decided to include them. They originally come from southern Mexico,
and the rest of Central America. Papayas have about the same exact range as well, but today, India leads the way in production of both of these fruits. Honeydew is delicious, and anyone who thinks differently can fight me in the comment section. It came from northern Africa, particularly Algeria.
But yeah, China’s now the top producer. This one might hurt a little, but kiwis are from China, not New Zealand. Specifically from around the Yangtze river valley. They weren’t cultivated much in China,
however, and it was only in the 20th century, that kiwis were brought to New Zealand,
and eventually became a commercial crop there. Then, these were exported to the US and UK, and that’s why they’re associated with New Zealand now. Since then however, who else but China
came in, and now contributes 55% of the world-wide production,
followed by Italy, and then New Zealand. The kumquat, if you don’t know, looks like an orange, but is about the size of an olive. Like so many other fruits, they come from the southeast Asian region. Lemons are also thought to have originated here, but more specifically – in the state of Assam in eastern India. And these are actually also a hybrid, between two older fruits: the bitter orange and the citron, both of which originated around this area as well. And to this day, India leads the world in production. Limes, well, are mostly the same, but actually
no one can really agree on what a lime is. There are several different things people call limes, which are all different combinations of citron, mandarin oranges and pomelo. All of which come from southeast Asia.
And so does the mango, for that matter. Olives got their start – of course – in Italy, but quickly spread throughout the Mediterranean region. As early as 5,000 years ago, olives were being grown commercially on the Greek island of Crete. But today, Spain is the biggest commercial supplier. Passion fruit is a weird name, but they’re the first fruit I’ve mentioned exclusively from South America. Originating from southern Brazil, through Paraguay, into northern Argentina. Peaches, again, come from north-west China,
between the Tarim basin and the Kunlun mountains. And wow, no way! China also produces 58% of the world’s peaches. The pear originated nearby, in western China,
in the foothills of the Tian Shan mountains. Pretty close to where apple’s from, if you remember.
And yeah, China produces the most of these too. Pineapples are thought to have started in southern Brazil and Paraguay. Just like the passion fruit, except way better. Uh, Costa Rica actually leads the world in pineapple production, so… good for them, honestly. Plums were also one of the earliest domesticated fruits, originating in eastern Europe in the Caucasus mountains. But today, China wins again with 55% of the world plum production. Pomegranates originally came from Iran,
and they’re the only fruit I found, with an entire “symbolism” section on its Wikipedia page. So it’s safe to say, it was pretty important to many early civilizations. And today, Iran remains the #1 producer of pomegranates. Raspberries are hard to pin down,
they propagated throughout Europe very quickly. But it’s thought they originated somewhere in Turkey.
Despite this, today Russia is the biggest producer. The modern strawberry is another example of a recent hybrid crossing, between the North American fragaria virginiana,
and the Chilean fragaria chloensis. The two species were first crossed in Brittany, France, in the 1750s. Although today, the US is the greatest producer of them. Tomatoes are are definitely fruits, and despite being closely associated with Italian foods, like pasta or pizza, they came from thousands of miles away, in the Andes mountains. There are many myths, about how the tomato got to Europe. Some suggest, it was Columbus who first took them back across the Atlantic. Others say, it was Hernán Cortés. And then there’s another story, about two Spanish Jesuits in Mexico. But basically, there’s no consensus. China wins again in terms of production,
however, with 31% of the world production. Lastly, we have watermelon – which started off looking like this in East Africa, right around Ethiopia. Then roughly 5,000 years ago, the Egyptians began cultivating the fruit, altering it, until we got what we know now as watermelon. But unsurprisingly, China today accounts for 68% of world-wide watermelon production. That’s all the fruits I’m going to include.
I tried to get the most popular ones, but I definitely left out some of the more regionally important ones. I think the biggest takeaways would be, that southeast Asia and the Middle East in particular, are where a lot of our favorite fruits originated. While the greatest producer of fruits today, is by far China. Why so many delicious fruits came from these areas,
is the topic for another video, however. So, I hope you enjoyed this. If you did, and would like to see where our vegetables,
where our meats, where our spices came from, well, give this video a like, and maybe comment,
telling me what you’d like to see. To make sure you don’t miss out on another video – hey, you can subscribe, if you want. I’ll be back next week with another video. Thanks for watching.