* The ancient Egyptians made wine using fermentation techniques based on an understanding of the microbiological processes that occur in the absence of oxygen. * Egyptians also applied fermentation technologies to make dough rise during breadmaking. Due in part to this application, there were more than 50 varieties of bread in Egypt more than 4,000 years ago. * In wetter parts of the Nile Valley, Egyptians also bred geese and cattle to meet their society's nutritional and dietary needs.
Beginning with his first visit to the Americas in 1492, Christopher Columbus and other explorers introduced corn, native to the Americas, to the rest of the world, and European growers adapted the plant to their unique growing conditions. Spanish navigators also returned with potatoes, which are native to the Andes in South America. Two centuries after their European introduction, potatoes were a staple in Ireland, Germany and other European countries.
In 1864, French chemist Louis Pasteur developed the process named after him and known today as pasteurization, which uses heat to destroy harmful microorganisms in products. The products are then sealed airtight for safety. Pasteur's scientific breakthrough enhanced quality of life, allowing products such as milk to be transported without spoiling.
In the mid-1800s, Austrian monk, botanist and plant scientist Gregor Mendel carefully studied the principle of heredity. Experimenting with garden peas, Mendel successfully cross-bred traits, such as pea color, plant height and pod size. Mendel showed that differences, such as a plant's height or color, could be attributed to the passing of traits and genes — the basic building blocks of life. Many people never knew of Mendel's innovations until after his death. When elected abbot of his monastery, Mendel's...