School House About Robbins Farm Arlington Agriculture Veggie Lifecycles Growing Patterns Vegetable Familes Garden Bugs Basic Garden Tools Photo Synthesis Robbins Farm Garden Blog


The English word cabbage comes from the French word for "head," caboche. If someone in Arlington calls you a cabbagehead, however, that does not mean they think you are French. Instead, it means they're suggesting you're not too smart.

To call someone a cabbage in France, however, is not an insult. It's an endearment. If someone in Paris calls you "my little cabbage," mon petite chou, it means they think you're cute. So don't poke them in the nose; bop them on the arm.


Cabbages come from a wild plant that grew originally in southern Europe on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. It was found there over 2500 years ago by the Celts and spread by them through the rest of Europe.

The original cabbages had no heads, that firm ball of leaves at the center of most of the cabbages you see today. The early cabbages were just a loose bunch of leaves. Cabbages with heads were first developed only 900 years ago in various parts of northern Europe, where they are still very popular.

Cabbages came to the United States by way of Canada, our neighbor to the north. In the 1700's they were grown by both the colonists and the Native Americans.

Eaten many different ways

Cabbage is an essential part of what's known today as the traditional New England boiled dinner. This meal is made up of corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes — all boiled together — plus a selection of other root vegetables including parsnip, carrot, white turnip, rutabaga and onion.

Beyond the New England boiled dinner, cabbage is eaten in a number of ways, both raw and cooked. Raw cabbage generally has a strong pungent flavor. Cook cabbage is milder and sweeter in taste.

Have you eaten cole slaw at a picnic? That's cabbage. Cabbage is also cooked in a number of soups and stews. It is used to wrap ground meat in dishes developed in a number of different cultures. People in some countries also like their cabbage pickled. Sauerkraut, a German dish, is a form of pickled cabbage. So, too, is kim chee, a popular Korean dish.