Cabbage - history, production, trade
The general term "cabbage" refers to all the cabbages, already cultivated since ancient times, for the production of leaves, flowers and stems.It is a very valuable variety of fresh vegetables for its nutritional values. It is a winter vegetable, very easy to find, given the numerous varieties available on the national and international fruit and vegetable market
Known since ancient times, cabbage (Brassica oleracea) was considered sacred by the Greeks. The Romans, instead, used this fresh vegetable as a cure to the most varied diseases, by eating it raw before the banquets in order to help the body to better absorb the alcohol.
Cabbage is supposed to exist already since the VI century. Pliny, in particular, mentioned broccoli as an important element on the tables of the most wealthy Romans. Later reliable news confirms that cabbage was already cultivated in Spain by the Arabs, who introduced t from Syria around the XII century.
With the discovery of America begins the era of naval travels over long distances. This fact rose the problem of how to beat scurvy, a disease caused by deficiency of vitamin C.
Travelling for long period of time without reaching land, having no fresh food available, citrus fruit and especially cabbage, which could be found also in the Northern countries, proved immediately useful to contrast the deficiencies of vitamin C. A big stock of fresh cabbage on board permitted to travel for several weeks. The health of Capitain's Cook crew depended on the virtues of cabbages: for the three years of navigation through all latidudes, Captain Cook did not lose any of his 118 men, because he gave them raw or cooked cabbages.
In the XVI century, the plant of cabbage was used as a laxative, while during the XVII century cabbage soup was recommended for alla lung diseases.
Always thanks to the stocks of cabbage, whaler's fishing campaigns in deep-sea that lasted months, were possible in the XVIII and the XIX century.
The medical literature of the last century, shows that cabbage was used to cure colds, phlegms, laryngitis, but also to treat rheumatism and pleurisy.
In British and French markets, cabbage was atready traded in the XVII century and from England it was brought to India in early 1800.
It is very likely that the cabbage arrived in Italy thanks to Venetians, who bought it in the island of Cyprus. Moreover, just around Venice, reseeding the seeds of the best plants, began thoughout Europe the genetic improvement of this plant, which only later was exported and cultivated In Central and Northern Europe. In Arezzo, a picture shows a large cauliflower offered for appraisal and subjection to the lord Cosimo III, in 1706.