Vegetables

Potato

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The potato is a starchy, tuberous crop  from the perennial nightshade Silanum tuberosum L. The word “potato” may refer either to the plant itself or the edible tuber. In the Andes , where the species is indigenous, there are some other closely related cultivated potato species. Potatoes were introduced outside the Andes region approximately four centuries ago, and have since become an integral part of much of the world’s food supply. It is the world’s fourth-largest food crop, following maize, wheat , and rice.

Wild potato species occur throughout the Americas  from the United States to southern  Chile. The potato was originally believed to have been domesticated independently in multiple locations, but later genetic testing of the wide variety of cultivars  and wild species proved a single origin  for potatoes in the area of present-day southern Peru and extreme northwestern Bolivia  (from a species in the Solanum brevicaule complex), where they were domesticated approximately 7,000–10,000 years ago. Following centuries of selective breeding, there are now over a thousand different types of potatoes. Over 99% of the presently cultivated potatoes worldwide descended from varieties that originated in the lowlands of south-central Chile, which have displaced formerly popular varieties from the Andean highlands.

The annual diet of an average person in the first decade of the 21st century included about 33 kg (73 lb) of potato. However, the local importance of potato is extremely variable and rapidly changing. It remains an essential crop in Europe (especially eastern and central Europe), where per capita production is still the highest in the world, but the most rapid expansion over the past few decades has occurred in southern and eastern Asia. China now leads the world in potato production, and nearly a third of the world’s potatoes are harvested in China and India.

Tomato

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The tomato is the edible, often red fruit/berry  of the nightshade  Solanum lycopersicum, commonly known as a tomato plant. The species originated in the South American Andes  and its use as a food originated in Mexico , and spread throughout the world following the Spanish colonization of the Americas. Its many varieties are now widely grown, sometimes in greenhouses  in cooler climates.

The tomato is consumed in diverse ways, including raw, as an ingredient in many dishes, sauces, salads, and drinks. While it is botanically a fruit, it is considered a vegetable  for culinary purposes (as well as under U.S. customs regulations, see Nix v. Hedden), which has caused some confusion. The fruit is rich in lycopene , which may have beneficial health effects.

The tomato belongs to the nightshade family, Solanaceae . The plants typically grow to 1–3 meters (3–10 ft) in height and have a weak stem that often sprawls over the ground and vines over other plants. It is a perennial  in its native habitat, although often grown outdoors in temperate climates as an annual . An average common tomato weighs approximately 100 grams (4 oz).

Carrot

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The carrot (Daucus carota subsp. sativus; etymology : from Late Latin  carōta, from Greek καρωτόν karōton, originally from the Indo-European root ker- (horn), due to its horn-like shape) is a root vegetable, usually orange in colour, though purple, red, white, and yellow varieties exist. It has a crisp texture when fresh. The most commonly eaten part of a carrot is a taproot,although the greens are sometimes eaten as well. It is a domesticated form of the wild carrot Daucus carota, native to Europe and southwestern Asia. The domestic carrot has been selectively bred for its greatly enlarged and more palatable, less woody-textured edible taproot. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reports that world production of carrots and turnips  (these plants are combined by the FAO for reporting purposes) for calendar year 2011 was almost 35.658 million tonnes. Almost half were grown in China. Carrots are widely used in many cuisines, especially in the preparation of salads, and carrot salads  are a tradition in many regional cuisines.

Brinjal

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The Bt brinjal is a suite of transgenic brinjals  (also known as an eggplant or aubergine) created by inserting a crystal protein gene  (Cry1Ac) from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis  into the genome  of various brinjal cultivars . The insertion of the gene, along with other genetic elements such as promoters, terminators and an antibiotic resistance marker gene  into the brinjal plant is accomplished using  Agrobacterium-mediated genetic transformation. The Bt brinjal has been developed to give resistance against lepidopteron insects, in particular the Brinjal Fruit and Shoot Borer ( Leucinodes orbnalis)(FSB). Mahyco, an Indian seed company based in Jalna, Maharashtra, has developed the Bt brinjal. The genetically modified brinjal event is termed Event EE 1 and Mahyco have also applied for approval of two brinjal hybrids. The Event EE 1 was introgressed by plant breeding into various local varieties by University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad and Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore. Some of the cultivars of brinjal include: Malpur local, Manjari gota, Kudachi local, Udupi local, 112 GO, and Pabkavi local. It was approved for commercialization in India in 2009, but – after an apparent public outcry and rounds of debates in which representatives from Mahyco, the scientific community, and NGO’s spoke on the topic – the then Indian Environment Minister, Jairam Ramesh, facilitated a moratorium  on its release until further, unspecified, tests were conducted. Bt brinjal was approved for commercial release in Bangladesh in 2013.

Pointed gourd

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Trichosanthes dioica is also known as the pointed gourd, parwal/parval (from Hindi ), or potol (from Assamese, Sanskrit, Oriya or Bengali  (পটল) pôţol) “Paror” in Maithili , “Parol” in Magahi  and “Parwal” in Bhojpuri, Urdu  and Awadhi . Colloquially, in India, it is often calledgreen potato. It is widely cultivated in the eastern and some northern part of India , particularly in Odisha, Bengal, Assam, Bihar , and Uttar Pradesh . It is a good source of carbohydrates, vitamin A , and vitamin C. It also contains major nutrients and trace elements  ( magnesium, potassium, copper, sulfur, and chlorine) which are needed in small quantities, for playing essential roles in human physiology.

It is a vine plant, similar to cucumber and squash , though unlike those it is perennial. It is a dioecious (male and female plants) vine (creeper) plant with heart-shaped leaves (cordate) and is grown on a trellis. The fruits are green with white or no stripes. Size can vary from small and round to thick and long — 2 to 6 inches (5 to 15 cm). It thrives well under a hot to moderately warm and humid climate. The plant remains dormant during the winter season and prefers a fertile, well-drained sandy loam soil due to its susceptibility to water-logging.

It is used as ingredients of soup, stew, curry, sweet , or eaten fried and as potoler dorma or dolma (dolma) with fish, roe or meat  stuffing.

Bottle gourd

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The bottle gourd, Lagenaria siceraria (synonym Lagenaria vulgaris Ser.), also known as opo squash, or long melon, is a vine  grown for its fruit, which can either be harvested young and used as a vegetable , or harvested mature, dried, and used as a bottle, utensil, or pipe. The fresh fruit has a light green smooth skin and a white flesh. Rounder varieties are called calabash gourds. They come in a variety of shapes: they can be huge and rounded, small and bottle shaped, or slim and serpentine, more than a metre long. Gourds are often called “calabashes”, but this is incorrect; calabashes (Crescentia cujete) are the fruit of the tree, while gourds (Lagenaria) grow on vines. See Sally Price, “When is a calabash not a calabash” (New West Indian Guide 56:69-82, 1982).

The gourd was one of the first cultivated plants in the world, grown not primarily for food, but for use as a water container. The bottle gourd may have been carried from Africa to Asia, Europe and the Americas in the course of human migration,  or by seeds floating across the oceans inside the gourd. It has been proved to be in the New World prior to the arrival of Columbus.

Luffa

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Luffa is a genus of tropical and subtropical vines classified in the cucumber (Cucurbitaceae) family.

In everyday non-technical usage, the luffa, also spelled loofah, usually means the fruit of the two species Luffa aegyptiaca and Luffa acutangula. The fruit of these species is cultivated and eaten as a vegetable. The fruit must be harvested at a young stage of development to be edible. The vegetable is popular in China and Vietnam . When the fruit is fully ripened it is ve

Luffa is a genus of tropical and subtropical vines classified in the cucumber (Cucurbitaceae) family.

In everyday non-technical usage, the luffa, also spelled loofah, usually means the fruit of the two species Luffa aegyptiaca and Luffa acutangula. The fruit of these species is cultivated and eaten as a vegetable. The fruit must be harvested at a young stage of development to be edible. The vegetable is popular in China and Vietnam .When the fruit is fully ripened it is very fibrous. The fully developed fruit is the source of the loofah scrubbing sponge  which is used in bathrooms and kitchens. Luffa are not frost-hardy, and require 150 to 200 warm days to mature.

The name luffa was borrowed by European botanists in the 17th century from the Egyptian Arabic name لوف lūf.

Cauliflower

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Cauliflower is one of several vegetables in the species Brassica oleracea , in the family Brassicaceae. It is an annual plant  that reproduces by seed. Typically, only the head (the white curd) is eaten. The cauliflower head is composed of a white inflorescencemeristem. Cauliflower heads resemble those in broccoli, which differs in having flower buds.

Its name is from Latin caulis (cabbage) and flower,Brassica oleracea also includes broccoli, brussels, sprouts, cabbage, collard greens, and kale,  though they are of different cultivar groups.

For such a highly modified plant, cauliflower has a long history. Francois Pierre La Varenne  employed chouxfleurs in Le cuisinier francois .They were introduced to France from Genoa in the 16th century, and are featured in Olivier de Serres’ Théâtre de l’agriculture (1600), as cauli-fiori “as the Italians call it, which are still rather rare in France; they hold an honorable place in the garden because of their delicacy”, but they did not commonly appear on grand tables until the time of  Louis XIV .

Cabbage

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Cabbage (Brassica oleracea or variants) is a leafy green or purple biennial plant, grown as an annual vegetable crop for its dense-leaved heads. Closely related to other cole crops, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts , it descends from B.oleracea var. oleracea, a wild field cabbage. Cabbage heads generally range from 0.5 to 4 kilograms (1 to 9 lb), and can be green, purple and white. Smooth-leafed firm-headed green cabbages are the most common, with smooth-leafed red and crinkle-leafed savoy cabbages of both colors seen more rarely. It is a multi-layered vegetable. Under conditions of long sunlit days such as are found at high northern latitudes in summer, cabbages can grow much larger. Some records are discussed at the end of the history section.

It is difficult to trace the exact history of cabbage, but it was most likely domesticated somewhere in Europe before 1000 BC, although savoys were not developed until the 16th century. By the Middle Ages , it had become a prominent part of European cuisine. Cabbage heads are generally picked during the first year of the plants’ lige cycles , but those intended for seed are allowed to grow a second year, and must be kept separated from other cole crops to prevent  cross-pollination. Cabbage is prone to several nutrient deficiencies , as well as multiple pests, bacteria and fungal diseases.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations  (FAO) reports that world production of cabbage and other brassicas for 2011 was almost 69 million metric tons (68 million long tons; 75 million short tons). Almost half of these crops were grown in China, where Chinese cabbage is the most popular Brassica vegetable. Cabbages are prepared in many different ways for eating. They can be pickled , fermented for dishes such as sauerkraut, steamed, stewed, sauteed, braised , or eaten raw. Cabbage is a good source of vitamin K, vitamin C and dietary fiber. Contaminated cabbage has been linked to cases of food-borne illness  in humans.

Cucumber

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Cucumber (Cucumis sativus) is a widely cultivated plant in the gourd family Cucurbitaceae. It is a creeping vine that bears cylindrucal fruits that are used as culinary vegetables. There are three main varieties of cucumber: slicing, pickling , and burpless. Within these varieties, several different cultivars have emerged. The cucumber is originally from Southern Asia , but now grows on most continents. Many different varieties are traded on the global market.

Radish

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The radish (Raphanus sativus) is an edible root vegetable  of the Brassicaceae  family that was domesticated in Europe  in pre Roman times. Radishes are grown and consumed throughout the world, being mostly eaten raw as a crunchy salad vegetable. They have numerous varieties , varying in size, color and the length of time they take to mature. They are sometimes grown as companion plants and suffer from few pests and diseases. They germinate quickly and grow rapidly, smaller varieties being ready for consumption within a month while larger daikon  varieties taking several months. Some radishes are grown for their seeds: oilseed radishes , for instance, may be grown for oil production. Others are used for sprouting and both roots and leaves are sometimes served cooked.

Pumpkin

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A pumpkin is a cultivar of the squash plant , most commonly of Cucurbita pepo, that is round, with smooth, slightly ribbed skin and deep yellow to orange coloration. The thick shell contains the seeds and pulp. Some exceptionally large cultivars of squash with similar appearance have also been derived from Cucurbita maxima. Specific cultivars of winter squash derived from other species, including  C.argyroperma, and C.moschata, are also sometimes called “pumpkin”. In New Zealand and Australian English, the term “pumpkin” generally refers to the broader category called winter squash elsewhere.

Pumpkins, like other squash, are native to North America . Pumpkins are widely grown for commercial use, and are used both in food and recreation. Pumpkin pie, for instance, is a traditional part of Thanksgiving meals in the United States, although commercially canned pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie fillings are usually made from different kinds of winter squash than the pumpkins frequently carved as jack o’lanterns for decoration around Halloween.

Spinach

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Spinach (Spinacia oleracea) is an edible flowering plant  in the family of Aiaranthaceae. It is native to central and southwestern Asia. It is an annual plant (rarely biennial ), which grows to a height of up to 30 cm. Spinach may survive over winter in temperate regions. The leaves  are alternate, simple, ovate to triangular-based, very variable in size from about 2–30 cm long and 1–15 cm broad, with larger leaves at the base of the plant and small leaves higher on the flowering stem. The flowers  are inconspicuous, yellow-green, 3–4 mm diameter, maturing into a small, hard, dry, lumpy fruit cluster 5–10 mm across containing several seeds.

Common spinach, Spinacia oleracea, was long considered to be in the Chenopodiaceae family, but in 2003, the Chenopodiaceae family was combined with the Amaranthaceae family under the family name ‘Amaranthaceae’ in the order Caryophyllales. Within the Amaranthaceae family, Amaranthoideae and Chenopodioideae are now subfamilies, for the amaranths and the chenopods, respectively.

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