Cabbages, Mustards, Turnips & Radishes
The Brassicaceae or Brassicas (formerly Cruciferae)
are all called "Mustards" by Botanists. This huge family accounts for most
of the winter greens and root vegetables humanity has depended on to make
it through 'till spring. Americans, with seemingly limitless supplies of
cheap meat and potatoes, have held cabbages in disregard, but would do
well to become more familiar with them for reasons of health, variety,
economy, and because properly prepared they taste good.
Wild cabbage, shown in the photo, is native to the coasts of western and southern Europe. All our familiar Western cabbages, including cauliflower, broccoli, kale and others, were developed from this wild plant by human intervention. Asian "cabbages", in contrast, are mostly turnips, but have been similarly breed into many varieties. The Brassica Family Tree explains the relationships. Photo by MPF distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike v3.0.
In China, even today, apartments with balconies are preferred so there's a cool place to store a mound of cabbages for the winter. Koreans bury huge jars in the ground in which to make chili laced sauerkraut (kimchi) without which no meal would be complete. Germany wouldn't really be Germany without sauerkraut, now would it? Where would the Slavic and Nordic countries be without Cabbage, Turnips and Radishes? Probably depopulated. In past times these vegetables meant the difference between survival and not.