||Dr. James Nienhuis, University of Wisconsin, Madison, presents Renaissance Art and Vegetables.
We can often trace the evolution of many of our grain crops, because the seeds are dry and can be preserved in archeological sites. Not so with fruits and vegetables. These foods have a very high moisture content and are perishable, so we don't have an archeological record, but we do have art. During the Renaissance, there was a trend towards Natura Morta, or still life paintings, and those paintings from the 15th and 16th century give us record of what many European vegetables looked like 500+ years ago. And some of them look pretty weird! So next time you go to the Art Institute in Chicago, don't look for the Rembrandts, look for the vegetables.