Thursday, September 17, 2009

Record Breaking Vegetables

The 2010 Guinness Book of World Records has just been released. It got me thinking about how proud I am to live in a state that consistently shatters world records, and not in one of the less salubrious categories, like "number of goldfish swallowed" or "heaviest weight dangled from a swallowed sword." Instead, Alaska is home of the giant vegetables!

When I was in 5th grade back in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., I remember seeing a filmstrip on "The Bounty of Alaska." It showed how everything in Alaska was bigger, from the mountains to the mammals. What really stuck with me, however, was the narrator commenting that, in Alaska, "they have strawberries as big as your fist." After being here ten years, I have yet to see a fist-sized strawberry, but I am delighted to see so many mammoth-sized vegetables year after year at the Alaska State Fair.

At this year's fair, Steve Hubacek broke a 20-year record for world's largest cabbage on September 2nd for his 125.9-pound cabbage entered in the "Green Cabbage" category. This gorgeous, perfectly formed cabbage just squeaked by the previous record of 124 pounds set by a farmer in Wales. Before that, the record hadn't been touched for more than one hundred years. Then, out of nowhere - oops, he did it again! Three days later, Steve H. brought in another cabbage to compete in the state fair's annual Giant Cabbage Weigh-Off. Dubbed "The Beast," this monster broke Steve's previously set record when it weighed in at 127 pounds, winning him the grand prize of $2000. 

Overshadowed by its larger and more glamorous cabbage cousins, another vegetable waited quietly and patiently for its shot at fame. Then - BOOM - another record-breaker at the Alaska State Fair! On September 5th, Scott Robb's 82.9-pound rutabaga blew the roof off of the previous world record of 77.8 pounds. However, Scott R. is no stranger to giant vegetable fame. In 2007, he set the record for the world's largest kale. This little beauty weighed in at a delicate 105.9 pounds. He also set records in 2006, twice in 2004, and in 2003 with record-breaking kohlrabi, cantaloupe, turnip, and celery respectively.

Sadly, these entries will not be included in the newly released 2010 Guinness Book of World Records because their records are so new and still in the verification process with Guinness. Stew anyone?


  1. I always loved going to the fair. The veggies were fantastic! I wonder what they do to get them to grow so big? With all the hype of organic gardening do they use chemical fertilizers or what?

    I've got a picture of me as a five year old standing next to a cabbage that is bigger than I was.

  2. I think I'll do a blog during next year's fair, Kellie, about just what makes those veggies so darn big! (If the farmers are willing to share a few of their secrets...)
    I have photos of my daughter in front of abnormally large vegetables from every year since 1999. I hope her memories of the fair will be as fond as yours when she eventually grows up and leaves Alaska.

  3. Yes, where are the fist sized strawberries?

  4. Hi! I'm a food and travel blogger, and I grew up in Anchorage. Although I reside in Houston, TX now, I write about Alaska often. I'd like to share some fun stories with you. See "Cabbage Pride" and "I'm So Excited" at I'm glad I found you! Cheers!

  5. I was working on a post for our blog, anonymous, and found this post. One of our contributors is heading to a couple of sustainable gardening conferences in Faibanks this week and I was looking for background info.

    I love your blog and I think you share our interest in preserving all the things that are special about life in the bush. We're trying to bring attention to the challenges facing rural Alaskans.

    Drop by and visit. We're trying to get a dialog going and your's would be a welcomed voice.