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 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.

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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Jordan Schaul is a conservation biologist and an animal curator with the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center near Anchorage, Alaska. He received his PhD in conservation medicine from The Ohio State University and a master’s degree in zoology. He is a council member (ex officio) of the International Association for Bear Research and Management (IBA), a member of the coordinator committee for the Bear Specialist Group of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and an advisor to the Bear Taxon Advisory Group of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Jordan also serves as the Correspondent Editor and Captive Bear News Correspondent for International Bear News. He is a member of the advisory council of the National Wildlife Humane Society, which promotes high standards for wild carnivore care and welfare among private sanctuaries in North America. Jordan is the creator of the Zoo Peeps brand ( which hosts a blog for the global zoo and aquarium community and a wildlife conservation oriented radio program. Jordan is also an affiliate assistant professor at the University of Alaska, Anchorage.

Jordan can be reached at jordan [at] alaskawildlife [dot] org or at

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