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Cabbage Conundrum: What Do You Do with a 125 lb Cabbage?

What to do with a giant cabbage? Eat it? Show it? How about feed it to an 800 lb grizzly bear? The 14th Annual Giant Cabbage Weigh-Off at the Alaska State Fair produced some gigantic heads of cabbage. I mean gigantic! When I first moved to Alaska I was aware that the citizens of the Frontier...

What to do with a giant cabbage? Eat it? Show it? How about feed it to an 800 lb grizzly bear?

Giant Cabbage, Alaska State Fair (NGS stock photo)

The 14th Annual Giant Cabbage Weigh-Off at the Alaska State Fair produced some gigantic heads of cabbage. I mean gigantic!

When I first moved to Alaska I was aware that the citizens of the Frontier State considered bigger to be better. However, I was wholly unaware that my new home was shared with such serious cabbage growers–including world record holder–Steve Hubacek.

Steve is from Wasilla, Alaska, not far from the fairgrounds in Palmer–known for its harvesting of world record- holding vegetables. After all, they get 19 hours of light in June in Palmer.

If Sarah Palin didn’t put Wasilla, Alaska on the map, I’m sure Steve and his giant cabbages did. Steve’s world record winning cabbage of 2009 weighed in at 125.9 lbs–a Guinness book champion.

The globular, leafy green plants are relatives of broccoli and brussels sprouts and reach enormous dimensions before they weigh in at the 125 pound range.

Steve said that “through trial and error, he finally learned how to grow them heavy.” He had been harvesting cabbage for 17 years and couldn’t grow them over 65 pounds. Eventually he discovered the trick. Click on the video link below to find out what he does to grow enormous cabbages. 

The cultivar of Brassica oleracea originates along the coastal Mediterranean region and remains a delicacy to some Middle Eastern cultures.

Cabbage–also known as wild cabbage or sea cabbage, was cultivated by the Ancient Romans and Greeks because of supposed medicinal properties. And indeed the cabbage has proven to offer anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties along with a wealth of vitamin C and glutamine.

Well, Steve’s cabbage won this year, but it did not surpass the weight of his world record-holding cabbage from 2009.

Video of Giant Cabbage Entry, Alaska State Fair 2011

We didn’t submit any cabbage entries, but the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center did receive some heafty vegetables that were entered into weight contests at the Alaska State Fair.

AWCC Executive Director Mike Miller with Patrone, J.B. and some giant vegetables (photo by D. Lindstrand)

Every year, visitors from around Alaska come to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center to see our executive director, Mike Miller, feed our three adult brown bears some  “leftovers” from the State fair.

Mike drives the tractor in to our 18 acre brown bear enclosure–the largest in the US–and brings with him an assortment of giant veggies for Hugo, Patrone, and J.B. to feed on.

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Meet the Author

Author Photo Jordan Carlton Schaul
With training in wildlife ecology, conservation medicine and comparative psychology, Dr. Schaul's contributions to Nat Geo Voices have covered a range of environmental and social topics. He draws particular attention to the plight of imperiled species highlighting issues at the juncture or nexus of sorta situ wildlife conservation and applied animal welfare. Sorta situ conservation practices are comprised of scientific management and stewardship of animal populations ex situ (in captivity / 'in human care') and in situ (free-ranging / 'in nature'). He also has a background in behavior management and training of companion animals and captive wildlife, as well as conservation marketing and digital publicity. Jordan has shared interviews with colleagues and public figures, as well as editorial news content. In addition, he has posted narratives describing his own work, which include the following examples: • Restoration of wood bison to the Interior of Alaska while (While Animal Curator at Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center and courtesy professor at the University of Alaska) • Rehabilitation of orphaned sloth bears exploited for tourists in South Asia (While executive consultant 'in-residence' at the Agra Bear Rescue Center managed by Wildlife SOS) • Censusing small wild cat (e.g. ocelot and margay) populations in the montane cloud forests of Costa Rica for popular publications with 'The Cat Whisperer' Mieshelle Nagelschneider • Evaluating the impact of ecotourism on marine mammal population stability and welfare off the coast of Mexico's Sea of Cortez (With Boston University's marine science program) Jordan was a director on boards of non-profit wildlife conservation organizations serving nations in Africa, North and South America and Southeast Asia. He is also a consultant to a human-wildlife conflict mitigation organization in the Pacific Northwest. Following animal curatorships in Alaska and California, he served as a charter board member of a zoo advocacy and outreach organization and later as its executive director. Jordan was a member of the Communication and Education Commission of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (CEC-IUCN) and the Bear Specialist Group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission (BSG-SSC-IUCN). He has served on the advisory council of the National Wildlife Humane Society and in service to the Bear Taxon Advisory Group of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA Bear TAG). In addition he was an ex officio member of council of the International Association for Bear Research and Management. Contact Email: