20 Mind-Boggling Photos That Show How Strange Some Foods Look Before They’re Plucked From Nature

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When you sit down to eat a meal, you don’t usually think about what the food once looked like before you bought it. If you saw some of the items in their earlier forms, though, you’d be in for a shock. So with that in mind, we’ve compiled a list that showcases the strange appearance of certain produce prior to being picked.

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20) Chickpeas

At first glance, you’d be forgiven for thinking that you were looking at a type of peach here. However, you’d be incorrect. These are in fact chickpea shells, with each individual pod housing just a single legume. It’s an interesting sight, and here’s some additional information to consider as well.

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These flowers can reach up to 20 inches in size and grow in various countries around the world. For instance, back in 2018 India was responsible for harvesting more than 11 million tons of chickpeas. As for the legume itself, it can be found in dishes such as curries, stews and soups after being picked.

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19) Pomegranates

Unlike a lot of other fruit out there, pomegranates don’t grow on plants or flowers. Instead, they sprout from trees, as you can see here. Each pomegranate hangs off a different branch, with the younger crops showcasing a greenish color. Of course, once they’re ripe, the skin then turns bright red.

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The pomegranate tree can shoot up to over 30 feet, in fact, and grows in Africa, Central Asia, the Middle East and around the Mediterranean. Moreover, Arizona is known for farming the fruit, too. After they’ve been pulled from the trees, pomegranates serve a number of different uses thanks to their juicy seeds.

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18) Capers

If you don’t know too much about capers, this will probably surprise you. That is indeed a flower head, but before it came into bloom, it was a palatable bud. As it turns out, those are actually capers. Incredibly, the tasty seasoning will sprout a beautiful-looking plant when it isn’t harvested.

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The crop itself is known as a “caper bush” and can be found in the Mediterranean. Once the capers have been plucked from the plant, they’re usually pickled or salted to maximize their flavor. As a result of that, you’ll spot the buds in plenty of different sauces and salad dishes, which highlights their versatility.

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17) Asparagus

When we go food shopping, certain fruits and vegetables immediately stand out on the packed shelves. Asparagus definitely comes under that category, but as you can see here, it’s just as distinctive in the ground, too. Indeed, the shoots resemble a leafy arm bursting out of the soil.

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Unlike most other crops, asparagus benefits from salty earth, which aids its unique growth. Furthermore, there are three different variations of the vegetable today, so you can choose from white, green or purple asparagus. The latter type is usually harvested in New Zealand, Italy and the United States.

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16) Quinoa

That’s a stunning plant, isn’t it? Otherwise known as an amaranth flower, these crops would light up any garden thanks to their reddish leaves. However, before you start making plans for your backyard, here’s something else to consider. Did you know that the aforementioned flora produces quinoa seeds as well?

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The plant can reach up to 7 feet in size and its flowers have been harvested in many countries down the years, including India, the U.S. and Kenya. Once the quinoa seeds are picked, consumers then have access to an incredibly healthy item. Indeed, the food is packed with vitamin B, fiber and protein, while it also contains no gluten.

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15) Kiwis

It could be argued that the kiwifruit is one of the most visually intriguing items on the market today. On the outside, the fruit has a brown skin with a frizzy texture. As you cut it open, you’re then greeted by a bright green interior. Before it reaches the shops, though, the produce is harvested from special vines.

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As you can see here, the kiwis are left to hang under the shade of the vines until they’re ready for picking. Surprisingly, a single acre of these flowers is capable of sprouting close to 20,000 pounds of produce some eight years after being planted. That period marks their most productive spell, which is said to last for an additional couple of years.

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14) Black pepper

When preparing dinner, a dash of black pepper can really improve the taste of a dish. But did you know that the spice actually has ties to fruit? It originates from peppercorns, as highlighted here. And much like the kiwifruit, the condiment sprouts from vines prior to its journey to your kitchen.

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Black pepper plants are sprawling organisms, in fact, with the vines measuring in at over ten feet. And the produce is mainly farmed in countries around the equator. For example, Vietnam is responsible for a large portion of the pepper on sale today. To give you an idea of the numbers, it provided nearly 40 percent of the global supply back in 2016.

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13) Wasabi

More often than not, we’ll only see wasabi when it’s in a paste-like form. However, as this image shows, the famous Japanese spice looks very different when it’s just been picked from the soil. These are “wasabi stems,” which will eventually be ground up into the condiment for customers to enjoy.

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The wasabi plants can be found near beds of water in Japan, ahead of their journey to your plate. The flower itself is part of the Brassicaceae family, which might sound familiar if you know your botany. Indeed, those plants produce other spicy pastes such as mustard and horseradish as well.

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12) Cocoa Beans

Who doesn’t love a piece of chocolate every now and again? Such products can test the willpower of anyone on a healthy diet thanks to their delicious tastes. But if you’re trying to wean yourself off the candy, these shots could do the trick. That’s because in their natural form, cocoa beans don’t look particularly appetizing.

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Cocoa beans are produced by Theobroma cacao trees, which seldom grow to heights of more than 25 feet. They thrive in warmer climates, and harvesters can pick the beans over a large portion of the year. However, the produce will only become chocolate if it’s first heated and then allowed to ferment after leaving the trees.

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11) Papaya

Papaya fruits are eye-catching items thanks to their color. The skin of the fruit has an orange shade, while its interior boasts a sharper reddish tone. It also contains black seeds in the middle. But did you know that the tasty produce sprouts from the trunks of trees like this one?

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These papaya trees can shoot up to over 30 feet tall, with the fruit being found below the leaves. The crops first appeared in South America and Mexico, before other countries got hold of them. Now, American states such as California, Florida and Texas all produce their own papayas, as do the islands of the Caribbean.

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10) Pistachios

When we tuck into a bag of nuts, it’s difficult to imagine what they looked like before reaching the shelves. In the case of the pistachio, though, you probably didn’t envision this. Nonetheless, those are pistachio fruits, sprouting from the branches of a tree. The nut itself comes from their seeds.

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In terms of the numbers, it’s believed that over a two-year period a single pistachio tree can produce roughly 50,000 nuts. And Iran was responsible for providing the most pistachio nuts back in 2018. The country grew in excess of half a million tons that year, with the U.S. just behind in terms of output.

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9) Cinnamon

From hot drinks to snacks, cinnamon has a way of making anything taste better. This popular spice has a very distinctive smell and flavor, but where does it come from? As you can see here, it’s actually a type of tree bark that gets cut away when harvest time arrives.

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Cinnamon trees are usually allowed to mature for a couple of years, ahead of being chopped down. From there, offshoots start to crop up in their place. The old trees are subsequently picked apart to create the spice. It’s reported that China and Indonesia were responsible for three quarters of the cinnamon on the global market back in 2016.

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8) Artichoke

As we highlighted earlier, capers are flower buds that were picked before they could blossom into beautiful plants. Artichokes are much the same in that regard, as they follow a similar path. This shot here showcases what a flowered artichoke looks like, and it much resembles that of a full-blown thistle in the garden.

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The connection goes beyond mere appearance, though. For you see, artichokes actually are a type of thistle. They’re harvested in many different countries across the world, with Italy and Spain leading the way in previous years. By way of example, the two European nations provided the world with over 600,000 tons of the palatable flower bud between them in 2017.

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7) Saffron

Unlike artichokes and capers, saffron can’t be produced by an unopened flower bud. Instead, you have to wait for the plant to bloom in the soil. As it turns out, the spice comes from the orange “stamen” found in the middle of the flower, which you can see right here.

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The flower itself is called the “saffron crocus,” and it first emerged in Iran. The aforementioned nation is also said to provide over 90 percent of the spice on the market today, too. As for the meals that contain saffron, you’ll notice it in foods such as paella, risotto and biryani.

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6) Pineapples

Visually speaking, pineapples are possibly the coolest-looking fruit in the supermarket today. But if we were to ask you where they come from, what would you say? A tree? Well, that’s not the case. Incredibly, these eye-catching items sprout up from plants in the ground, as the image here highlights.

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The pineapple can be found in the middle of the flower, like an extravagant plant head. The botanical growth can shoot up to almost 5 feet in height, with its centerpiece beginning life as a red-colored bud. It’s a fascinating process, but the surprises don’t end there – did you know that pineapples are categorized as berries, too?

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5) Brussels sprouts

When listing off divisive foods, Brussels sprouts are right up there. Some people absolutely love these vegetables and won’t eat a roast dinner without them. However, there are others who can’t stand the sight of them. If you’re in that latter category, this image here is unlikely to sway you into changing your mind.

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As you can see, the sprouts grow on stalks in significant numbers. It’s believed that a single stem is capable of providing more than 3 pounds of Brussels come harvest time. And despite the vegetable’s divisive reputation, its market value in America is nonetheless said to be worth in excess of $25 million.

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4) Coffee

Ahead of a long day at work, a cup of coffee can be just the thing we need to perk ourselves up. These hot beverages give us a boost thanks to the caffeine found in each serving. However, did you know that coffee beans originate from a type of berry, such as these ones here?

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The berries come from a flower called the Coffea plant, which can reach heights of up to 15 feet. They also produce seeds that will later become coffee beans. The process itself is fairly simple, as the fruit is first plucked from the branches. After that, its contents are then placed into an oven to round things off.

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3) Vanilla

Upon first glance, you might believe that you’re looking at a strange bunch of bananas here. After all, what else could it be? Incredibly, though, these crops are actually vanilla fruits sprouting from a plant. It’s a surprising sight, as it’s difficult to imagine vanilla as anything other than a scent or flavor.

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The vanilla plants thrive in warmer conditions, so they’re harvested in nations such as Indonesia, Tahiti, Uganda and Mexico. But away from those countries, Madagascar is responsible for around 75 percent of the vanilla on the market today. And financially speaking, the spice was bringing in more than $500 million back in 2018, highlighting its popularity.

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2) Peanuts

As we mentioned earlier, it’s difficult to visualize what a nut could look like before it hits the supermarket. However, if you thought the origin of pistachios was strange, wait until you see this. Those are indeed peanuts hanging from the roots of a leafy plant that’s just been pulled out.

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For you see, technically peanuts don’t fall under the “nut” category, as they’re actually legumes. The produce grows beneath the soil, with a yellow flower head blooming above it. Many of these crops can be found in China, which led the way in the market in 2017 by harvesting more than 17 million tons of peanuts that year.

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1) Cashews

No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. That’s a cashew nut, albeit before it reaches your kitchen. At this stage, it looks more like a pepper stem than a tasty snack, though. But the nut is indeed located inside that dark pod. As for the red items above them, they’re better known as “cashew apples.”

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Much like cashew nuts, the apples are edible as well. More often than not, the fruit can be processed into beverages, jelly dishes and even alcoholic drinks. Going back to the nut, Vietnam was responsible for most of the world’s supply in 2017. It provided in excess of 860,000 tons to the market, with India just behind.