A journey through nature, commerce and adventure, The Fruit Hunters takes us from the dawn of humanity to the cutting of edge of modern agriculture — a series that will change not just the way we look at what we eat, but what it means to be human. The Fruit Hunters' first episode, "The Evolution of Desire," explores the origins of fruit's diversity and tells the story of humanity and fruit's intimate co-evolution. Every variety of fruit has a story, the story of the person who cultivated an individual plant, and then shared something wonderful with the world. To preserve this diversity is to retain this living memory. A passionate few, the fruit hunters, fight to preserve this diversity in a world increasingly dominated by economically driven monoculture.
Supermarkets are stocked with fruit year round in a global permanent summertime, but despite its accessibility, have we lost the diversity that makes it so special? The second episode of The Fruit Hunters will look at what happens when we abandon the Garden of Eden for an industrialized monoculture. In lush jungles of Borneo, Bala Tingang, an elder of one of the last hunter-gatherer tribes, lives of the wild fruits that are the key to his tribe's survival. And yet, all around the world, natural diversity is being replaced with monocultures, plantations of only one variety, bred for long shelf life and transportability rather than their taste or health properties. Not only is this lost of diversity impoverishing our taste buds, but it has catastrophic implications for our food security. In the vast uniform banana fields of Honduras, Juan Aguilar, a banana scientist, frantically tries to breed a banana resistant to a deadly fungus.
Steve Backshall reveals the incredible influence that insects and their close relatives have on Earth's many ecosystems. In the grasslands of South America the landscape has been created almost solely by one team of insects - grass-cutter ants. Across the world's oceans one tiny creature plays such a key role that, without it, the largest animal on our planet, the blue whale, could not exist. And in East Africa the savannah would quickly be swamped in dung were it not for the activities of a certain beetle. Yet the greatest influence of all comes from a group of insects that have ultimately changed the colour and diversity of our planet.
In this final episode we complete our journey, travelling back from the March equinox to the end of June. Kate Humble is in the Arctic at a place where spring arrives with a bang, whilst Helen Czerski chases a tornado to show how the earth's angle of tilt creates the most extreme weather on earth.