Onions: history and origins

The onion is a fruit and vegetable product native to the regions of Asia: its origins are very old.
In spite of archaeological finds that prove the existence of this fresh vegetable already in the age of bronze, 5000 b.C., it is not clear if this plant is really so ancient or if its cultivation spread only later (about 2000 years later): therefore, it is not possible to determine a certain date for the introduction and the consumption of onion worldwide.

Onion spread above all in Egypt, together with other fruit and vegetable products such as leek. From some researches it seems that onion, together with radish, was part of the diet of the workers that built the pyramids of the great pharaohs.
Anyway, onion had a great success among Egyptian, not only because it was easy to transport and store it, but also because, thanks to its round shape and to the concentric rings that can be seen once it has been sliced, it was connected to eternal life, thus becoming an object of worship. Remains of onion bulbs were found also in the eye holes of Ramesses II: apart from representing the eternal life, in Egypt it was thought that the strong flavour of onions could give new breath to the dead. In the past it was also thought that if a sick person dreamt of eating few onions, it was sign that its disease would have worsened irreparably, while if he dreamt of eating a lot of onions, exactly the contrary would have happened.

The onion is a vegetable that largely spread worldwide in centuries: for example Romans and gladiators believed that this fresh fruit and vegetable product could tone up muscles, therefore they used to rub their bodies with onion. It is also known that Ancient Greeks consumed large quantities of this vegetable because they believed that it could purify and lighten the blood.

The onion became very important, above all as a vegetable and therefore as a food, in Middle Ages, when it was used even as a payment method (for example to pay the rent) or as a present. In this period, the onion was also used with therapeutic purposes against the snake bites, or to soothe headache, or against the hair fall; starting from the XVI century, the onion was given as a remedy against the infertility not only to women, but also to pets.
Finally, the onion was introduced in America in 1493, by Christopher Columbus, during the journey that he did to Haiti.

The history of onion is therefore dated back to very ancient times and thanks to its great versatility in cuisine, this fresh vegetable has increasingly rooted also in modern culture obtaining a lot of space on the fruit and vegetable market.
In the world fruit and vegetable sector, countless different varieties of onion are produced, in fact, today the onion is one of the fresh vegetables with the largest number of varieties produced and traded on the international fruit and vegetable market. Nowadays there are a lot of companies that produce onions, certified companies for the production of onion, producers of onions, companies that produce organic onions, companies that deal with the trade of onion (packaging od onion), retailers of onions, importers of onions, exporters of onions and wholesalers of onions: such a large variety range has largely increased competition among countries worldwide (EU members and not) for the production of onions and the trade of onions.

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