Recently, I read a Reddit thread in which a community member claimed that broccoli is man-made. As a broccoli proponent, I easily dismissed this as a conspiracy theory. There was absolutely no way that broccoli, one of the most popular vegetables in the world, is a lab creation.

After chatting with some friends about it, I began giving this theory some real thought. Think about it. Have you ever seen wild broccoli? NOPE! This simple question took me on a Google search rabbit hole and turns out, there's more truth behind this Reddit thread than we thought. There's more than meets the eye to this loved and hated vegetable.

So, is broccoli man-made? Let's find out. 

Reagan Street

Man-made or myth?

Let's start with broccoli's background. Over 2000 years ago (we are talking Roman Empire here) the Etruscans first brought broccoli to current-day Italy. The Etruscans are credited for several agricultural endeavors including acquiring the base for commercial broccoli and wild cabbage. This wild cabbage plant species is known as Brassica oleracea. Shortly after becoming a hit, it took on the name "Italian asparagus."  

Like every good historical product, it began to be traded throughout the world, until it reached the United States. In the 1700s, famous farming genius Thomas Jefferson planted some of the first broccoli on American soil. Interestingly enough, broccoli didn't actually become a hit in the U.S. until the 1920s.

According to a survey by Green Giant, broccoli is held near and dear to America's heart. It is a household favorite vegetable, earning the popular vote in 39 of the 50 states

Reagan Street

So, is Broccoli a GMO?

Broccoli IS NOT, I repeat, NOT considered a genetically modified organism (GMO). If you want to sound even smarter than you already are, refer to broccoli as the product of selective breeding.

In short, by controlling the environment, and taking buds from the wild cabbage, broccoli can be forced to reproduce. In the course of reproduction, the less desirable products are then thrown away and the broccoli with desirable traits is forced to reproduce again. After a lot of cross-breeding, one is left with the perfect form of BROCCOLI!

Reagan Street

Wait, there's more...

Remember that wild cabbage? Brassica oleracea? That same cabbage has given us other vegetables besides broccoli. The list includes commercialized versions of cauliflower, kohlrabi, kale, and even Brussels sprouts. These vegetables are also products of selective breeding! If you've ever heard of broccolini, it is also selectively bred from the same wild cabbage. The special thing about broccolini is it goes a step further than broccoli. After broccoli is derived from wild cabbage, it is later cross-bred with Chinese broccoli, making the hybrid, broccolini.

Reagan Street

Although broccoli isn't what it seems, have no fear, it's still a healthy vegetable. Broccoli is not only filled with numerous vitamins but promotes healthy digestion, as well as brain function. 

#SpoonTip: Did you know you can even eat your broccoli stalks? You can make them super delicious with these tips and tricks.

So now, go forth, share your new knowledge, and eat some broccoli!