We harvested Swiss chard Saturday, one of the garden’s most colorful vegetables.
Lots of what people believe about Swiss chard turns out to be wrong. Here’s just one example: It’s not Swiss. It’s Sicilian.
Overall, the chard family goes back thousands of years to Iraq. Some chards were grown in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. The family’s most colorful member got its start in Sicily, a big island in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Italy.
Back in the mid-1800s, however, chard was not all that popular of a crop in Europe. So seed sellers decided to see whether they could spice it up a little bit, give it a bit more cachet. They decided to call it "Swiss." After all, this variety does look kind of knickknacky Swiss–colorful, shiny, kind of hard, like a souvenir you might bring home from the Alps.
The growers hit paydirt. Seed sales jumped through the roof. The rest was history. Chalk one up for Madison Avenue.