Main content

Where Do All Our Vegetables Come From?

Have you ever seen a Brussels sprout growing in the wild? Neither has listener Pogo.

Listener Pogo wants to know why there aren’t any cabbages – or any of the other vegetables – in his local forest. Where did they all come from? And could they someday disappear? Presenter Gareth Barlow goes hunting for wild snacks in a city park and unearths the evolution of our most beloved greens. The vegetables on our supermarket shelves today were not always nicely wrapped and tasty. Humans have been selecting for specific genes in plants for thousands of years by choosing to grow those we liked the most.

Tomatoes have been transformed from a small prickly desert plant in Peru into a water guzzler with round, juicy, sweet fruits. But with breeding – and sometimes cloning – of plants we have also created genetic bottlenecks in many of the crops we rely heavily on. This has left many of our vegetables across the world vulnerable to shifts in climate, natural disasters, wars and diseases.

To find solutions to this massive breach in food security, CrowdScience heads to the Millennium Seed-bank in England. By collecting and storing our most precious seeds in vaults beneath the ground, scientists are protecting the genetic diversity that we will need to overcome the challenges ahead.

Presenter: Gareth Barlow
Producer: Louisa Field

Picture: Man holding basket of vegetables
Credit: Getty Images/valentinrussanov

Available now

27 minutes

Clip

Broadcasts

  • Fri 6 Jul 2018 19:32GMT
  • Sat 7 Jul 2018 23:32GMT
  • Mon 9 Jul 2018 04:32GMT
  • Mon 9 Jul 2018 06:32GMT
  • Mon 9 Jul 2018 10:32GMT
  • Mon 9 Jul 2018 14:32GMT

Send us your question

Send us your question

Do you have a question we can turn into a programme? Email us at crowdscience@bbc.co.uk

Podcast