The underdog of the Brassica family, cabbage is actually our saving grace. North Americans have cabbage to thank for, well, basically everything we have today. Without cabbage, explorers from the Old World might never have made it to the New World.  Ships carried stores of cabbage to feed and heal its crews; its high Vitamin C content help ward off scurvy and its antimicrobial properties helped injured sailors wounds from developing scurvy. It was Jacques Cartier who brought cabbage cultivation to the Americas in 1536. Toronto’s Cabbagetown neighbourhood is also firmly rooted in this vegetable. Its name derives from the Irish immigrants who moved to the area in the 1840’s and grew cabbage in their front yards (urban agriculture!). Cabbage is a biennial flowering plant with a short stem and a crowded mass of leaves, from which a globular cluster or cabbage head grows. Cabbage is usually green, but purple and red varieties are also popular.  Outer cabbage leaves have an edible waxy coating and a crunchy texture; inner leaves are more tender and milder tasting. Though the cabbage core is edible (and delicious pickled!) most people remove and discard the core before cooking cabbage. In the Old World, cabbage was very popular in ancient Rome, where it was eaten and used medicinally. Ancient Romans used cabbage as a cure for hangovers and as a "band-aid" wrap for war wounds. Cabbage spread across Europe via the Romans and was soon consumed in England and France; the British called it "cabbage" after the French "caboche," meaning head. In Danish, cabbage was called "kool" (and salad, "sla,") so the Danes are the likely originators of coleslaw. By the 17th century, pickled cabbage ("choucroute" or "sauerkraut") was a commonly consumed food in Alsace and eastern Europe. Pickeld cabbage is similarly popular in China and Korea, where it is known as suan cai and kimchi. Kimchi is especially good for you: it eliminates cholestorol, promotes intestinal health, and is a powerful antioxidant.