A couple of days ago my friend posted something on Facebook, which played on my mind for the rest of the day. Her post featured a bunch of videos of people claiming that supermarket cabbages are made of rubber.
I was a bit shocked when I saw this, firstly because I didn't think my friend was gullible enough to get sucked in by this, and secondly by the absolute stupidity of these people and the fact that their nonsense misinformation is being spread and propagated.
In the video a guy, who is old enough to know better, has a bag of Marks & Spencer's cabbage. He rips it open and takes out a fresh leaf of the cabbage and holds the flame from a lighter underneath it for ten seconds before saying, "look, nothing's happening."
The guy claims that this is proof that M&S and other retailers' cabbages are made of rubber. He then says "know what you're eating, if there's a way to check it, check it before you eat it." I mean come on, it's absolutely ridiculous. If I can't set soup alight with a lighter does that mean I shouldn't eat it???
Of course you can't set a fresh cabbage leaf alight with a lighter, it's almost entirely water. In fact I would challenge any one to find ANY piece of fresh fruit or vegetable that they can burn with a naked flame.
Have these people never tried to light a bonfire with damp wood? The guy even says "it's smoking." No, it's not smoking, that's steam, it's the water inside evaporating.
Obviously you can burn leaves, but to burn them quickly and effectively you need to dry them out first. This is why the drying processes involved in producing tobacco is so important, but wet leaves aren't flammable. Do you know what is? Rubber. Rubber is flammable and would light if you held a flame underneath it.
Another material that burns really easily is paper, we all know that. But did you know that if you hold a paper cup full of water over a flame, the water will boil before the cup burns? You can actually boil water in a paper cup.
So, why doesn't the cup burn? Well, water is a great conductor of heat, that's why we use it too cool everything from computers to nuclear power stations. The flame, although in direct contact with the bottom of the paper cup, is unable to raise its temperature because the water inside the cup is constantly absorbing the heat of the flame.
This is exactly what is happening with the cabbage leaf, due to the high water content the surface of the leaf doesn't get hot enough to ignite but the water inside the leaf gets warmer and warmer. Eventually the water will evaporate leaving a dry combustable leaf.
You might be wondering why anyone started trying to burn cabbage in the first place. The answer to that question is the video below which shows Japanese wax artists making ultra-realistic food samples used for display. Unfortunately these low IQ cabbage burners have completely misunderstood what's happening in the video and think it shows the Chinese making fake cut-price cabbages to sell to unsuspecting customers overseas.
Fake food is pretty common in Japan, it's displayed in restaurants to help people choose from the menu. Amazingly this video led to scaremongering headlines like "artificial synthetic 'cabbages' are being made in China in just 40 seconds flat."
Did no one stop and think how much it would actually cost to make a wax or rubber cabbage? In either case it's certainly a lot cheaper to grow a cabbage. A whole cabbage costs about 60p to buy in Tesco, that's for a vegetable that's about a kilo in weight. Rubber currently costs £1.23 per kilo, and candle making wax is even more expensive at £1.42 per kilo.
If the conspiracy theorists are right then we've been eating rubber and wax for years. So presumably the price of these fake items are even higher than those I've just given as they wouldn't be made from just normal wax, as we all know that's hard, too hard to bite. We'd also rip our teeth out trying to bite into rubber. So if cabbages were made out of these materials then they'd have to be specially treated and of course flavoured.
Like most conspiracy theories, this one lacks logic, and shows those who believe it to have no common sense at all. It defied logic to believe that China could be making wax or rubber cabbages and that we've been eating them without realising. Have you ever eaten rubber? No, me neither, but I bet I could tell the difference between rubber and the leaf of a planet.
The video of the guy trying to burn his cabbage has had almost seven million views, it's such a shame that many people haven't watched the paper cup experiment instead and actually learnt something rather than filling their brains with this madness.