As you’re considering the health benefits of this fibrous vegetable, you might be wondering: is cauliflower man made?
Yes, cauliflower is man made. But that doesn’t mean scientists created cauliflower in a lab. The history of cauliflower goes back much further than 20th-century genetic modification.
Let’s take a look at how farmers used selective breeding to cultivate desirable wild cabbage traits over many centuries.
Cauliflower is a domesticated cultivar of wild cabbage or Brassica oleracea. (A cultivar is any variety of plant that humans have cultivated using selective breeding. More on that in a bit.)
Cauliflower is most genetically similar to broccoli. Both vegetables come from the flower clusters of wild cabbage.
The history of cauliflower begins slightly more recently, about 2,000 years ago. The exact geographic origin of cauliflower remains a mystery. But cauliflower most likely originated in the Mediterranean.
Historians believe that the ancient Etruscans first cultivated wild cabbage in the Italian region now known as Tuscany. In the first century Rome, Pliny the Elder referenced an early form of cauliflower in his text Natural History.