A History of Vegetables


    THE Gardeners' Chronicle of March 3 publishes a report of a lecture on “The Introduction of Vegetables” by Mr. E. A. Bunyard. It comes as somewhat of a surprise to find that many of our common vegetables were once regarded as harmful plants, or were the subjects of religious prohibition. The broad bean, for example, was forbidden to the Egyptian priests, though later it was the cause of ‘bean-feasts’ to a bean god. Garlic, cabbage, asparagus and spinach have all had a somewhat chequered history. The scarlet runner bean was long prevented from becoming a table delicacy by its value for ornamental purposes. Tomatoes were first suspected of being poisonous, then became medicinal, and it was not until the eighties of last century that their nutritive value was realised in Great Britain. The potato survived a great volume of scorn, and was finally introduced to cultivation through sheer necessity it miiigated the hardships of several famines. Mr. Bunyard suggests, somewhat whimsically, that lilies and tulips are edible, and appeals for an extension of “the Elizabethan spirit of adventure in the vegetable garden”.

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