Week of January 8th, 2023
As we move through citrus season and add a variety of oranges, mandarins, grapefruits, and pummelos to your boxes, we sometimes have people wondering about something: How are seedless oranges, well, seedless? Does it take genetic modification to create seedless oranges?
This is a fair question! After all, with what we know about biology and the furthering of plant species, a fruit not having seeds seems contrary to everything we’ve been taught. Thankfully I can assure you that seedless oranges are in the category of non-GMO and every orange we send in our Box of Good is organic as well. Let’s take a moment to look at the history and biology of seedless citrus!
Seedless fruits originate from plants that are, for all intents and purposes, “infertile”. This means that the plants or trees produce fruit but the fruit itself has no way of then creating a new plant to continue the genetic line. Instead of planting seeds to obtain seedless fruit, they are instead grown through a process called grafting, in which a shoot from one tree is attached in a specific manner to another tree and then the shoot grows as if it were originally part of the tree. This is how we get many varieties of fruit (you may have heard of this particularly related to apple trees as this is quite popular in the apple industry). In this case, shoots from a seedless orange tree are grafted, or propagated, onto another tree, and so on to continue growth.
Historically speaking, a tree that produced seedless oranges was discovered in the 19th century in South America. From there, grafting was used to begin the process of growing what we now know of as navel oranges! Similar processes have been used for other seedless fruits as well, such as grapes and watermelon. Not a product of genetic modification, but rather inventive growers capitalizing on unique mutations in fruit to provide enjoyment and convenience to the consumer!
I love learning more about the processes of growing the food that we are so quick to enjoy. As a culture, we tend to be so separated from the food we eat and lack knowledge about its origins, the time and care that it took to grow it, and how it makes its way to our plates. The more you know about the food you eat; the more appreciation you have for it and the greater intentionality you will have with ensuring that what you eat is what’s best for you!
As we continue to strive to offer you the very best of food options, we will also strive to provide resources, tips, and education about that food.
-Emily and the Box of Good Team