Cabbage & Beats: The Miracle of Color and Their Amazing Healing Properties

Cabbage & Beats: The Miracle of Color and Their Amazing Healing Properties

Purple cabbage and beets--truly, art by nature.

I was a bit hesitant at first to have my little permaculture students use fruit and vegetables to create art because I thought it was wasting. But I realized that it’s not so: wasting is showing disgrace to/ for things. Using fruits and vegetables as a natural dye is how things were done before toxic synthetic dyes—it was a safe way of beautifying our clothes and art with colors; it caused no damage to the environment, nor did it produce toxic runoff for marine life or people using these colors.  For me—and what I was teaching my students—nature produces everything we need and if we can value that, honor that then we need to thank nature and take very good care of her. We can do this by making sure that our interactions with her are gentle, gracious, loving and harmless. It’s when we are not that we produce true waste, putting at risk the earth and all the other life forms that depend on her.

Without humans, did you know that nature alone produces no waste? But we are here, so we need to coexist by finding ways to live with nature’s natural rhythm. In class we showed gratitude for nature’s gifts by enjoying the medicinal value of these three ingredients, we savored her flavors, created art that awed the kids, and then we gave the remains to the worms for compost. 

Natural dyes from beets and purple cabbage

Color galore by these two, but did you know they are also super important for our health?

Beets lower blood pressure and are an amazing source of iron! 1-2 tsp if beetroot powder in 8oz of H2O will supplement your body with its daily need for iron! 

Beet leaves are Swiss chard and help cure sore throat, swollen glands, persistent coughing and they help remove toxins from the body!

Beets are also known for rapidly breaking down cancer cells—they break it down so fast that it’s advised to monitor how much you eat so that your liver can process the broken down cells fast enough before the next round of broken down material comes through.

Beet Juice Recipe


  • 3 small-medium raw beets
  • 1/4 inch peeled and grated ginger
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/8 c water (optional)

Juice beets according to your juicer's instructions.  Or, peel and chop them up into quarters, and put it in a blender (with or without water). Strain in a reusable mesh cloth. Rinse blender and put back the strained juice, adding ginger and lemon. Blend for 2 seconds. 

Cabbage is cancer preventative! But before I tell you about why/how, let me amaze you by telling you that broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, collards, kale, and kohlrabi are all cabbages and all belong to the same species (B. oleracea)!  As John Heinerman explains in his book "New Encyclopedia of Fruits and Vegetables", these differences were not achieved by hybrid or mutation but "simply by encouraging the development of one element or another already present in the original plant" (p.74).  Now to the health benefits: the high amounts of sulfur and histidine inhibit the growth of tumors, detox body of harmful chemicals and help your body produce cancer-fighting compounds!

Cabbage and all of its varieties significantly help reduce bad cholesterol, which is notorious for creating build up in our arteries. By including these foods in your diet daily, John refers to several medical studies showing how it reduces your chance of getting coronary heart disease!

It’s amazing to me how medicinal these food are, just as they are—nothing needs to be changed. Yet constantly our foods are being genetically modified, shifting molecular structures and protein, without knowing what the potential outcome may be.

Another wonderful thing about cabbage, specifically purple cabbage, is its astonishing color! It produces the most beautiful shades of blue and purple. When I was creating color with the little ones, all we did was put pieces of raw cabbage directly onto a sheet of paper, and pound it with a wooden spoon. It created beautiful splashes of blue and purple. You can also dye fabric, as I did with my older students. Here's the link to a very simple recipe! DIY Natural Dye

Our food is at risk! Monsanto is not concerned about the intrinsic health benefits these foods offer but instead are interested in making more money by controlling our food supply. And how do you do that? By owning reproduction! Many argue that genetic modification has been practiced since the beginning of agriculture, but that’s simply not true: genetic modification today, which involves the addition of foreign genetic material is not the same as classic plant breeding. Without any GMO necessary, plants alone are able to become “something else” with gentle guidance and without posing any risk to our health, just as Heinerman explained with the varieties created with cabbage. Again, they are not hybrids, nor were they created by mutation. They were simply created by nurturing a singular element in the original plant that was guided to produce into a brussels sprout, kale, or chards for example.

Foods are natures medicine; they are what sustain us, not just energetically but medicinally. So be sure to choose your veggies wisely--No GMO foods. And if you plan on having a garden this year, be sure to choose your seeds carefully so that you get the best quality produce—nothing from GMO!

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