Ancient Vegetable Meals

Vegetable gardening is a wonderful hobby for people of all ages. It is a wonderful way to grow a wide variety of vegetables that can be used to add color to any area, improve the taste of any dish, or add nutrients to your diet. Vegetable gardening is popular around the world. In America alone, millions of acres are devoted to vegetable growing and many more thousands of individuals are taking up this hobby as a way to relax and have a great time outdoors.

Vegetable gardens are planted in rows, starting in the middle of the garden and continuing out to the edge. Vegetables are all parts of live plants, which are consumed as food or other matter by humans or animals. The original concept is still widely used today and is often applied to vegetables together with fruits to indicate all edible vegetable matter, such as the leaves, flowers, roots, seeds, and stems. One particular variety of vegetable that is used in a great many American gardens is cucumbers. Cucumbers come in many sizes, shapes, colors, and flavors making them very versatile in the vegetable garden.

Cucumbers were one of the earliest fruits eaten raw by people in China. This was thousands of years ago before tomatoes, chilies, potatoes, avocados, onions, garlic, and the other “golden fruits” were ever consumed by man. Throughout much of history, the cucumber has been the top vegetable used by humankind, even being mentioned in the Bible. Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and Chinese alike, recognized the healthy benefits of this vegetable.

Much of the Western world’s knowledge regarding vegetables comes from the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, China, and Greece. Through the written word, these civilizations also provided information on vegetable planting, growing seasons, how to prepare fruits and vegetables, how to preserve plant parts, and how to cure certain fruit disorders. For example, Pliny the Elder noted that although he could not yet fully comprehend the healing power of plants, he knew that some plants, like cucumbers and lemons, were beneficial to his health because they kept his heart content. He wrote in his Natural History, that although he could not fully understand how or why this was, he noted that certain types of vegetables “are apt to give a person wholesome breathing, pleasant smelling breath, which makes him happier.”

While the ancients only had access to fruit, they were certainly familiar with the many vegetables that were grown in their gardens or around their homes. Fruits such as melons, beans, radishes, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, carrots, spinach, broccoli, squash, turnips, beets, peas, okra, corn, and peas were all very common in gardens throughout Europe. By contrast, the cavemen could only dream of what vegetables they could eat, as only very few plants were available to them. The most common plant they could chew was the corn plant, which can be identified by its stalks, or even its seeds, if the plant were preserved in the animal’s excrement, as it was sometimes done. Plants such as spinach, cabbage, and cauliflower were also grown, but only by aristocrats because they could be preserved longer in the saltwater when they were picked for use as food.

The ancient Romans were no less enamored of vegetables, as they regularly ate whole foods like plants and fish and used spices to flavor them as well. They even considered tomatoes to be a form of salt. Vegetables, especially tomatoes, are well known for containing the “good bacteria” that produce the necessary micro-organisms that help to control and maintain a healthy intestinal tract. These micro-organisms are necessary for digestion and thus are important for maintaining a healthy body weight. Without these micro-organisms, it is virtually impossible to absorb nutrients from vegetables or fruit.