Peas, sometimes known as green peas to distinguish from other foods called peas, are the small green (yellow and purple are also available) seeds that are considered to be a vegetable for cooking purposes. These small seeds grow in pods on the Pisum sativum plant, which is capable of reaching 2 m tall. The peas are extracted from the pods and then the pods are discarded. Peas are used for a variety of culinary purposes. Peas can be eaten raw, but are most commonly boiled, steamed or added to a variety of dishes. The majority of peas consumed in the world are picked, shelled and then snap frozen for transport and sale. Peas have been eaten by humans for thousands of years and the earliest discovery goes back to approximately 4800 BC. Let’s find out where the humble pea comes from.
Where do peas originate from?
Peas originate from the Mediterranean basin and the Middle East, where they can still be found growing wild today. Some of the oldest dated peas have been discovered in the Nile delta region of Egypt. Peas have been domesticated since this time and were selectively bred improve the yield of the plants. From here the pea was spread to other parts of the world, including Asia where it became very popular. Today peas are grown on every continent on Earth, apart from Antarctica.
Where are peas grown today?
The two largest producers of peas today are China, with 10 million metric tons, and India with 3.5 million metric tons. Other large producers (over 200,000 metric tons) are France, the United States, the United Kingdom and Egypt.
Did you know?
Many other vegetable and legumes share a name with the pea. In fact, there are hundreds of different edible foods that are known as peas, including snow peas and sugar (snap) peas which are variations of the Pisum sativum plant.