Discover the sometimes-ancient origins of some of our favorite foods – where they came from and how some arrived in North America. Plus, we’ll learn some myths and facts about their benefits.
Special Video Segments
Bananas are one of the most popular fruits on earth. The banana plant is actualy not a tree. It’s a large herb in the same family as lilies and orchids.
Everybody knows the health benefits of vitamin C, but what if you’re not big on oranges or grapefruit? Why not try the fruit known by many names: the vine pear, the sunny peach, the hairy bush fruit, the Chinese gooseberry, or most pominently, the kiwi!
When it comes to sweet and juicy fruits, peaches are the pick for a lot of people. They are great right off the tree, or in a dessert like in a cobbler. In some cultures they are not only tasty, but also significant.
Learn about the history of celery beyond salad toppings and bloody mary garnishes. Celery was even found in the tomb of King Tut!
Served as a salad or as a dip like guacamole, what could better than an avocado?
Beets were originally grown in countries around the Mediterranean. In Roman times, they were raised for the medicinal properties of the beet leaves rather than the root that we eat today.
Cotton is the world’s most versatile fabric and its history includes a variety of colors and cash.
A spice that has a historic and holiday background. Long before ancient man starting writing down recipes, folks were already using ginger for medicinal and culinary reasons.
Eat them on hamburgers, hot dogs, in soups, or in stews. You name it, onions are a tasty addition to any meal and they have been since the dawn of time.
The history of how dairy cows came to become an important source of food is a “mooo-ving” one.
Pound for pound, watermelons are America’s most popular melon.
Remember when your mom used to tell you to eat your broccoli? Well, she was right. Broccoli is low in calories, high in vitamins, and benefificial in reducing your risk of getting certain kinds of diseases.
Americans like their garlic. We consume a quarter billion pounds of garlic every year. Scientists say that garlic is good and good for you.
You may think of peanuts only as food but that’s just part of their story.
While mushrooms are one of the oldest plants on earth, their popularity is really a modern phenomenon.
It is believed Brussel Sprouts got their name because they were first cultivated in the farmland around Brussels, Belgium in the 16th century. But that is only part of their colorful history.
Some people think a salad just isn’t a salad without cucumbers. Popular as pickles, a big ingredient in certain kinds of relish, and the source of the common expression “cool as a cucumber”.
Fruit cake is a global treat with quite a history. Early recipes from the Roman times mention cakes baked with pine nuts, pomegranate seeds, and raisins. By the 16th century, almost every country in Europe had their own fruit cake varieties. In U.S., the cakes became a popular holiday tradition by the turn of the 20th century.
Name a product that incorporates any number of farm fresh commodities all in one package. It’s the hot dog.
Ancient Egyptians first tried fish farming using waters from the Nile River. From there, early fish farming spread, or swam across the Mediterranean. Modern efforts were first introduced in the 1700’s starting in freshwater ponds or tanks and evolving to saltwater breeding.
Being one of the most popular vegetables on Earth, the carrot has a truly fascinating history, including having once been used in medicine and also being used an item of clothing fashion in Britain.
Though they go by many names, garbanzo beans are pretty recognizable to those who frequent salad bars. These little beans pack lots of fiber and other minerals that can help lower cholesterol and help provide important antioxidants in our diets.
Ever thought about how much cheese you consume? Whether or not you realize it, cheese is a huge staple in the American diet, one that has an extensive history from ancient mythology to the pizza on your plate.
The Germans get the credit when it comes to the cultivation of the horseradish, but just how far back does this spicy condiment go? Paul Robins enlightens us with the history of this pungent root.
Looking to add something healthy to your diet? Paul Robins shows us the importance of lettuce and where it came from.
Do you like a little heat in your food? Native to the Americas, indigenous people were using peppers to flavor their meals hundreds of years ago. When Christopher Columbus sailed across the Atlantic, he quickly discovered the joys of spicy peppers and brought them back to Europe. Our Paul Robins says there’s another fellow you can thank for making peppers popular. Wilbur Scoville is the American who came up with a scale that tells consumers just how hot those peppers are.
You may only think about turkeys at Thanksgiving, but these native American birds have been an important part of America’s poultry history for hundreds of years. Paul Robins takes you back in time to find out how the turkey got its name, and how the bird has become an increasingly important part of our diets.
In the song The Twelve Days of Christmas, it’s the fruit tree favored by partridges. Despite that fame, many people don’t know that much about pears. Paul Robins lays out some interesting historical facts about the tasty fruit, and why early Greek writers often referred to pears as “the food of the gods.”
Pickles are one of the most popular condiments in the supermarket aisle.It’s thought that cucumber seeds brought from India grew well in the Middle East, and it wasn’t long before someone discovered that cucumbers in brine made a delicious addition to dinnertime menus. The popularity of pickles quickly spread around the Mediterranean. Cleopatra thought that pickles were good for her complexion, and Julius Caesar fed pickles to his Roman troops.
What’s watching a movie without popcorn? The white-kernelled corn snack is popular around the world. People enjoy popcorn with salt, butter, caramel, and many other flavors. But this snack is no newcomer to the culinary world. Paul Robins explains how popcorn played a role in the lives of early Americans.
Sweet potatoes were being enjoyed by native tribes in the Americas centuries before explorers made their way to the New World. There are reports of people growing sweet potatoes in Peru as far back as 750 B.C. And while they became a favorite food in Europe after Columbus made his way to these western shores, explorers also brought them to Southeast Asia where they have been a food staples for centuries.
Native tribes across the Americas have been growing and using pumpkins for centuries. The colorful orange pumpkins were used in soups, stews, and desserts. The empty shells were used for storage. In addition, the tough pumpkins skins were woven into mats. Don’t try this at home: pumpkins were once recommended for removing freckles and curing snakebites.
Asparagus is a popular pick for a vegetable to serve at that special dinner party. First raised in the Mediterranean region, asparagus was a favorite of Roman nobles who kept special ships to bring the vegetable to Rome from planted fields in the north of Italy.
From Traction to Tractors
It’s a piece of machinery that changed agriculture forever. Paul Robins says that steam engines of the 19th century demonstrated how efficient it could be to work your farm using more than just a horse and plow. When internal combustion engines were developed, it opened the door to a range of farm machinery delivering greater crop yields and giving consumers many more choices.
Salt is a critical mineral for both humans and animals. The mineral can be found around the world and is used for a variety of things including food processing, animal health, and chemical production. Reporter Paul Robins gives you the colorful history of salt and reveals how important the mineral has been to nations and armies.
Tomatoes are, botanically, a fruit that most people consider a vegetable. Fruit or vegetable, tomatoes are popular produce. Used in spaghetti sauce, ketchup, pizza toppings and. of course, as a salad item, tomatoes have been an important part of our diet for centuries. Reporter Paul Robins gives us the details on the history of the tomato and reveals that early Europeans thought that tomatoes actually made one feel more romantic.