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In the Middle Ages, onions were so important that people would pay their rent with them and give them as gifts

Alex A

In spite of the tears we shed when we peel it, the healing powers of onion are beyond mention, not to mention the flavor this veggie gives to any meal. Onion has been used as food for millennia. Although it’s not exactly clear where and when the onion was first cultivated, traces of onion remains were discovered alongside fig and date stones in many Bronze Age Settlements, dating back to 5000 BC.

Onions in 1926 magazine

The first archeological evidence of onion cultivation can be traced to Ancient Egyp around 3000 BC. The onion had an important role in Ancient Egypt as food, but also a symbol of worship.  Allegedly, workers who built the Egyptian pyramids were fed with radishes and onion. Ancient Egyptians worshiped the onion bulb, believing its concentric rings and spherical form are symbols of eternal life. They were even used as part of Egyptian burials; onion traces were found in the eye sockets of Ramesses IV.

Onion Ilustration
Onion Illustration

Unlike the Egyptians, the Ancient Greeks used onions more for the health benefits. The vegetable was believed to be beneficial for lightening the balance of the blood, so Athletes ate it and in frequently in large amounts. In order to firm up their muscles, Roman Gladiators were rubbed down with onions.

Medieval peasants with onions

Onions also shone as super-food in The Middle Ages; they were valued so much that people often paid their rent with onion bulbs and were often given them as gifts.

 A woman-with-onion Photo Credit
A woman with onions Photo Credit

Native Americans used wild onions for years in many different ways, but the first cultivated onions were first taken to North America by the early European settlers. The Native Americans used onions to make syrups, in the preparation of dyes, and to form poultices. Bulb onions were one the first things planted by the pilgrim settlers, according to diaries kept by the colonists.

In the 16th Century doctors prescribed onion as medication for infertility in women but as well as in animals.