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History of forgotten vegetables

History of forgotten vegetables

History of forgotten vegetables

Rutabaga, Jerusalem artichoke, parsnip, scorzonera… Forgotten vegetables are coming back into fashion! Surprising the palate and the eye today, these garden curiosities were nevertheless cultivated for centuries before disappearing from plates. Why have ancient vegetables been forgotten? How is their return to grace explained? A short journey through the epic tale of the new stars of the vegetable garden.

Great moments in the history of forgotten vegetables

Ancient vegetables have a centuries-old history. Long popular for their natural resistance to frost and insects, they have fed populations for many years.

Their excellent preservation was much appreciated. These vegetables have the particularity of being able to keep for several weeks without rotting. This made it possible to cook them during the long winter months. Endowed with very good nutritional qualities, they also had the advantage of preventing deficiencies and famine.

Finally, some of these vegetables are root vegetables growing underground. This constituted a considerable asset at a time when the soil was frequently trodden by the armies of a Europe at permanent war.

The disgrace and oblivion of ancient vegetables after the Liberation

In the 18th century, a major competitor overshadowed historic vegetables: the potato. Easy to produce and anti-famine par excellence, it will little by little become the essential food for populations. During the 19th century, less tuberous chervil, golden turnip and other crosne were produced.

When the great conflicts of the early 20th century broke out, farmers were asked to produce potatoes in large quantities to feed the soldiers. Civilians, for their part, then reluctantly return to old vegetables.

The popularity of so-called “forgotten” vegetables declined after the Second World War. Associated with the dark hours of history, they were shunned at the Liberation. The post-war generations do not know them and therefore do not consume them.

The industrialization of agriculture completed this plunge into oblivion for several decades. Insufficient yield, lack of interest from consumers, globalization of the food market, in the age of modernity, old vegetables are put in the closet.

The rediscovery and new glory of historic vegetables

The 21st century is that of a return to grace. Anxious to return to homemade food and to promote short supply chains, consumers and great starred chefs are once again interested in forgotten vegetables. Cardoon, kohlrabi, horned tetragon find their way to the gardens.

Their unusual character and the new flavors they bring are gradually attracting an ever-wider audience. Many varieties colonize the shelves of organic stores, but not only that.

Always ignored by industrial agriculture because of their low yield, forgotten vegetables are relatively spared by intensive cultivation practices. They become the symbols of eating better.

The benefits of forgotten vegetables: to cook without moderation

Reintroducing these vegetables into our diet has many benefits.

For the planet, first of all. As already mentioned, forgotten vegetables are easily preserved in winter. They therefore make it possible to vary the composition of meals at a time of year when the stalls are less stocked. All this, without having to resort to imported or greenhouse-grown vegetables, for example. In addition, by throwing the peelings into your kitchen compost , you can continue to supply your houseplants with natural fertilizer even in winter!

These vegetables are also beneficial for health. Antioxidants, rich in fiber and vitamins, fantastic means of dietary diversification... In addition to or as a replacement for more common vegetables, their consumption brings many benefits.

Finally, we should not underestimate the pleasure for the eyes. Often with unusual colors and appearances, these foods allow you to renew the dishes a little and impress your guests.

Want to impress your guests? Make some kale chips as an appetizer. Starters such as samosas with white turnip tops and goat cheese or a rutabaga salad with hard-boiled eggs will delight your friends. Finally, to accompany the main course, opt for a bowl of oriental-style roasted carrots, parsnips and celery, for example.

One thing is certain, the story of forgotten vegetables is far from over. The rehabilitation of ancient vegetables is only just beginning. Many vegetable gardens are already the scene of the comeback of these curious, long-has-been stars.

You too can (re)discover unusual flavors thanks to our seed packets .

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