AUTHOR SUNDAY – Those Beautiful Turnips – Are They Animal Food?

turnipsI have friends from Scotland I met on a cruise from Cyprus to Egypt in 2000. I have visited them in Scotland and they have visited me in Romulus, Alabama.

While in Scotland I saw acres of turnip fields with the most beautiful greens I’d ever seen with purple turnips as big as softballs. They told me turnips are raised for animal food only and no one ever cooked the greens to eat. While they were here I cooked some for them which they ate but were not convinced to make it a regular part of their diet.

This is the Christmas letter I sent to them in 2009.

Dorothy Graham Gast

Today I gathered the turnips and greens that survived our too wet fall and prepared turnip greens with roots and ham. I remember the beautiful fields of turnips along the roads near your homes and calculated the hundreds of thousands of American dollars that they would fetch in the supermarkets of small town Alabama.

After the famous Civil War that divided the states and cost more lives than any war Americans ever fought, the women and children, the old and crippled, were left to the ruins of their homes. Whether great plantations or one room cabins, hunger and illness was everywhere.

George Washington Carver, a Black orphan who had become a scientist and come to teach in a Black college in Alabama searched for a way to feed the hungry. Plantation owners had raised turnips and either fed the greens to animals or thrown them away. Carver taught the needy families to raise and eat turnips with their greens, sweet potatoes, and peanut products because of the high nutritional value and low cost of each.

Since then turnip greens have been a comfort food within the reach of the poorest. Never served on fancy occasions, it is a dish reserved for family and those close. With cornbread and the vinegar from pickled hot peppers, it is often followed with baked sweet potatoes and offered to guests and family with great love and respect.

May your holidays be full of the joy and peace that only comes from above.

Love,  Dorothy from Alabama

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Filled with drama, suspense, humor, and romance, DISCORDANCE continues the family saga from the Tapestry of Love series with the children of Mary Dixon who married Thomas Cottingham.

Inspired by true events and the Cottingham family that resided in 17th century Somerset, Maryland and Delaware, colonial America comes alive with pirate attacks, religious discord, and governmental disagreements in the pre-Revolutionary War days of America.



  1. No …. Love them ….tops and bottoms!!! LOL

  2. Turnip greens and fresh hot biscuits,,,YUM! I knew a man in Geneva who raised acres of turnips for his cattle to eat. Anyone could out to the field and gather a mess,,,no charge!

  3. My mom and dad lived in Germany while he was in the service. Mom was pregnant with one of my older brothers, she was craving turnip greens so her German nanny took to a farm outside of town. That farmer thought this 4ft 7 in very pregnant American was crazy and kept her cravings cured by unlimited supply of greens for free. He grew them solely to feed his cows. At 92 now she still laughs about it now.

  4. I seen a field of turnips in P A back in the early 60 we stop and ask some Quakers could we buy some he ask what did we have cows or hogs we said none he ask why we wanted them then we said to eat he look at us funny and said you people from Georgia are strang

  5. I believe my dad could have eaten turnips & greens every day. He loved them. If my mom & I cooked spaghetti, he would not eat it. He called that Church food because of Church Suppers. She would have to cook him vegetables everyday.

  6. I loved this article! Turnips are my favorite vegetable. But, I will never be able to cook them like my precious Alabama grandmother! This article left me feeling nostalgic! Love turnips! Love my Southern heritage!

  7. Love, love, love turnip greens! In the South it’s a regular part of our diets. Turnip greens with cornbread, yum, yum!

  8. People food too! An very good!!!

  9. Deer likes them ..My husband and I made our living in the winter months selling turnip greens from Alabama, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina …This turnip is White Globe.. The most popular is Seven Tops no roots or Purple Tops.with turnip roots. Corn bread and good ole turnip greens…Don’t forget collards and Mustard greens…