Our Food

Cabbage Unveiled

From Walking Sticks to Cancer Prevention

Originally published April 2004 in Healthy Options magazine, New Zealand

Shan Cabbage FarmAt first glance the cabbage seems rather unremarkable as it is common and inexpensive. It has proven itself for thousands of years to be one of man’s closest friends; providing nourishment, preventing ill health, supporting the ailing body with the strong stalk of the walking stick cabbage and more recently pleasing the eye in frilly purple, white and green varieties. The cabbage is officially a member of the Brassicaceae family, which is more mystically known as Cruciferae because all the flowers have four petals which was seen as resembling the crucifix. Other vegetables of the cross are broccoli, cauliflower, watercress, horseradish, mustard, radish, turnip and rutabaga. All vegetables from this remarkable family have preventative and healing powers as they contain powerful anti-cancer phytonutrients in varying levels along with other important vitamins, minerals and fiber.

Many thousands of years ago as the wild ancestor of today’s cabbage varieties made its way from China to Ireland it was valued by king and commoner alike. Russian princes paid tribute in cabbages. Chinese used cabbages to help bald men grow hair. Romans believed cabbages sprang from the sweat of Jupiter himself and once threw their physicians from the city declaring they would much rather rely on cabbages to keep them healthy. In Greece the senate voted there was no better food than corned beef and cabbage. Pharaohs ate cabbage before drinking so they could drink without getting drunk. In more recent times, cabbage has regained some of its renown of old through the trendy cabbage soup diet, which is mainly used to loose weight, but may also help to detoxify the body.

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