We have all heard the term. Hybrid foods. Like a mystical creation that gives us pork, bacon and ham all from the same animal! Okay, okay not quite, and if you haven’t guessed it’s called a pig. Hybrid foods are mostly grown and harvested fruits, vegetables and grains, this can also be done with animals. Think of the labradoodle.
The intent was to breed two parent samples together that had the characteristics that you wished to reproduce in a superior product, much like breeding two different animals together. In my work with the C.O.P.E. Service Dogs, we would see dogs that had traits that were very good, like strength and personality. They would breed these dogs with other dogs of the same species to ensure that these traits are continued in the next generation. It is much the same with hybrid foods.
The idea is to breed a species that;
The techniques that create these hybrid foods is painstaking and time consuming. It is an inaccurate science that can take many generations and decades to produce a fruit bearing plant that is successful when done by a careful farmer and not done in a lab.
Many people are frightened by the prospect of these changed foods. Yes man needs to protect and specially care for some of these creations. But “they” are concerned because these modified foods are missing minerals essential to health. Although, this may be due, in part, to the soil that suffers from mineral depletion because of mass farming practices. (Although that is another story.)
I think that we should get something straight. There is a massive difference between what the terrified “they” think, and the reality of the term hybrid foods is.
Hybrid Food – is done with care. It is the cross pollenating, cross breeding, or grafting of plants from the same species or genus to produce results that provide stronger, hardier, or more appealing foods.
Genetically Modified Foods – have had their DNA modified. Scientists have deleted or inserted genetic material from other species entirely, be it another plant, animal, bacteria etc. basically anything that has DNA, into an existing food. This changes the genetic makeup of the end organism entirely.
Did you know that we generally consume hybrid foods without even really knowing it? There are many on the market right now that we, as consumers, have forgotten are hybrid, or haven’t been told.
Wheat – all of these have been hybridized in one way or another to provide us with a hardier, higher yielding, or a better looking outcome.
Then there are the obvious hybrids.
Broccolini – broccoli + Chinese kale, loads of vitamin C and K
Broccoflower – broccoli + cauliflower, high in antioxidants
Grapples – fancy apple + concord grape, a grapple a day…
Nectaplum – nectarine + plum, loads of potassium
Plumcots / aprium – apricot + plum, lots of vitamin C
Tangelo – tangerine + pomelo grapefruit, can you feel the C vitamins yet?
Every grocery store has to label their produce somehow. Many will carefully put each fruit and vegetable into a named category, like granny smith apples, but the individual ones usually have a sticker on them as well. These stickers have a number that is called a PLU. There is a system with these PLU’s that identifies what practices the fruit has been grown under.
This apple was conventionally grown, its PLU is just a regular four digit number: 4131
If it were an organic apple the PLU would have 9 for a prefix: 94131
If it were genetically modified in some way there would be an 8 prefix. This prefix also takes precedent over organic, so if it came from a genetically modified seed, but was organically grown the PLU is still: 84131
It is unclear as to the nature of these 8-PLU’s and if it means both hybridization and genetically modified, or just modified foods.
So there you have it.
No need to freak out next time you see a strange looking piece of fruit. And you are safe to have a laugh at the funny name, or try to come up with one that rolls off the tongue better for you. Like the pluerry, a crazy combo of plum and cherry. Let me know how you feel about these thoughts, take the poll below and give your opinion. Or leve me a comment and voice your thoughts.
For more information about hybrid foods and genetically modified foods please check out these sources that helped me with this article.
When Apricot Met Plum – The Wall Street Journal
Genetically Modified Foods – ProQuest
Hybrid Foods – Live Strong.com
In Defence of Hybrid Foods – Raw Food Health.com
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