|Thursday Tips: Genetically Engineered Vegetables|
|Written by Heleigh Bostwick Thursday, 17 January 2013|
After reading Trendy Vegetables, a Daily Dirt reader brought up a good point. She asked if these colorful vegetables such as the gold chard and violet artichokes were genetically modified.
I didn't think so, as I thought genetic modifications usually had more to do with pests and less to do with color modifications, but I wasn't sure. So I did a little poking around to see if I could find an answer. With all of the colorful vegetables around today including the purple tomatoes pictured above, red carrots, and the cheddar (orange) cauliflower, I thought it was a worthwhile pursuit.
The good news, at least in terms of colorful vegetables is that there doesn't seem to be any genetic modification involved--it's plain old hybridization and gene selection. For example, the cheddar cauliflower originated from a mutant orange cauliflower back in the 1970s and was bred for that color.
In addition to being trendy and well, colorful, colorful vegetables are bred for another purpose, your health. Purple fruits and vegetables like the purple tomato from Oregon State Pictured above have many more times the amount of anthocyanin or red pigments than regular ones do--and that's in addition to lycopene, which is responsible for the red color in tomatoes. That cheddar cauliflower is actually chock full of beta-carotene. All of these are flavenoid compounds that function as antioxidants and are beneficial to health.
First Fruit: The Creation of the Flavr Savr Tomato and the Birth of Biotech Food
Genetically Altered Foods and Your Health: Food at Risk
Mendel in the Kitchen: A Scientist's View of Genetically Modified Food
Photo source: www.oregonstate.edu