If you're wondering, "is broccoli man made?", the answer is yes, broccoli is man-made. But don't panic. That doesn't necessarily mean the vegetable originated in a laboratory.

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In fact, broccoli isn’t even a recent invention. Read on to learn how ancient farmers used selective breeding to produce broccoli.

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Selective breeding, also known as artificial selection, is a process of cultivating plants. Growers propagate plants with favorable traits to produce a better version of the original plant.

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Favorable characteristics might include hardiness, size, flavor, or resistance to pests and disease. To propagate plants, growers harvest seeds from favorable plants. But they might also duplicate plants by grafting, cutting, layering, and other methods.

A mere 8,000 years later, farmers began breeding broccoli from the wild cabbage plant: Brassica oleracea. As the wild cabbage grew, gardeners were able to select premium buds. They would use these new buds to replace the less desirable originals, gradually cultivating bigger and tastier plants.

Historians believe that the ancient Etruscans first cultivated wild cabbage over 2000 years ago.  Farming in the Italian region now known as Tuscany, the Etruscans bred the earliest species of broccoli as well as other cruciferous vegetables.