The rutabaga (Brassica napus) is a plant grown for its starchy, bulbous roots. Its primary historical use has been animal feed, but it also makes a fine food for humans. Crisp when raw, the rutabaga becomes soft and potato-like when baked or boiled. Its flavor is mild, like a turnip but sweeter. Most rutabagas sold in America have been coated with wax, and must be peeled before consumption. The plant originated in Northern Europe, and is sometimes called a swede or swedish turnip.

Although it contains no fat or protein, the rutabaga is reasonably nutritious. 93kcal (1 cup, mashed) contains the following micronutrients in significant quantities: Vitamin A: 1350 IU (90% US RDA)
Vitamin C: 45 mg (75% US RDA)
folic acid: 36 mcg (18% US RDA)
calcium: 115 mg (12% US RDA)
potassium: 782 mg (39% US RDA)

This compares favorably on every count to an isocaloric portion of bananas (widely lauded for their potassium content) and potatoes (the only tuber generally eaten in America).

Rutabagas get little respect. The sound of their name doesn't help anything. More significantly, affluent westerners have a long history of associating tubers with poverty (although the potato has escaped this fate thanks to frying, and later on thanks to the ostensibly health-conscious baked potato). This is probably because meat has historically been a luxury item, and the choice food of the wealthy. Also, plants that store starch in their roots use it to survive the Winter, so foraging for root vegetables has a strong association with times of starvation.

Personally speaking, I find rutabagas (as well as their cousins, beets and turnips) tasty and fun to eat. Plus, I get to say "rutabaga."

Three reasons to like rutabagas:

1. Its name comes from an old Norse root meaning "root."
2. Thanks to pokemon, I can imagine the rutabaga saying "rutabaga rutabaga!"
3. Get to explain the difference between a beet, a turnip, and a rutabaga to people who would sooner die than eat any one of them.

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