Onions (Allium cepa ) are popular in North America as one of the slices in a classic hamburger. Like Garlic, they are members of the Lilly family of plants. They are an ancient food plant and another one that scientists believe originated in Central Asia, where for thousands of years old Silk Roads passed through.
This vegetable was likely a food staple in pre-historic time, before the modern historical era began around 11,000 BC with grain growing in the Mesopotamian region (Iraq). Some researchers also say onions could have originated in Iran (Persia) and western Pakistan. This could be the most ancient food in our modern diets. It is used in twice as many countries as wheat, according to a great article from the BBC online called Three cheers for the onion 2 January 2015.
To understand why this food has been so important for so long, look at what Chris Dixon’s Healthy Edibles says about the health benefits (For Educational Purposes Only):
a red/purple raw onion helps prevent premature aging; boosts immunity, is anti-parasitic, a liver cleanser, helps manage high blood pressure & blood sugar, helps treat Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, lung, stomach, colon & rectal cancers, coughs & osteoarthritis symptoms such as joint pain; suppresses appetite & aids weight loss around the abdomen; helps prevent atherosclerosis, is a remedy for enlarged veins & reduces the risk of Alzheimer disease.
Caution: onions may cause some gas & flatulence
Today this vegetable is widely used in India, with almost every meal including onion as an ingredient. If the price rises too much, there is trouble in the streets. Between China and India, they are 45% of global onion production.
Whereas some countries eat up to 30kg of onions a year eg. Uzbekistan, Canadian consumption is more modest at 10 kg or around 23.7 pounds. The onion is a medium nitrogen feeder and yields can vary depending on the region. Because these are a root crop they need soil with good tilth and good fertility.
Storage of onions requires cool, dry and dark conditions. How well food keeps depends on what is done in the field and key nutrients and ratios (N/K).