In Bereshit 1:29-30, Adam is told that vegetables were allocated for him to eat for food. However, is there any information as to what vegetables Adam was permitted to eat, specifically whether Adam was allowed to eat root and underground vegetables such as potatoes, garlic, onions etc.?

EDIT: Found this one non-Jewish website which says (no sources though):

Let us understand what it was. "Behold, I have given you every herb [a plant without a strong woody stem or trunk] bearing seed" is generally understood to mean grains (wheat, oats, corn, rice, rye, barley, millet, etc.), seeds (sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame, flax, etc.), legumes (soybeans, kidney beans, lentils, split peas, peanuts, etc.), and other foods containing seed, some of which we call vegetables today (eggplant, bell pepper, pumpkins, cucumbers, tomatoes, okra, squash, melons, etc.). ". . . and every tree [plant with a strong woody stem such as a shrub, bush, or tree], in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed." This is generally understood to mean fruits (oranges, lemons, cranberries, apples, pears, mangos, strawberries, dates, cherries, blueberries, bananas, coconut, avocados, olives, etc.), and nuts (almonds, pecans, cashews, walnuts, chestnuts, pine nuts, brazil, etc.). The green plants of the field were the food for the animals and birds.

And then after the sin:

After Adam and Eve sinned God told them, "Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb [plants] of the field." Gen. 3:18. Now God instructed man to also eat of the plants of the field, which originally was given for the animals to eat. This is generally understood to mean leafy, flower, and root vegetables (lettuce, spinach, parsley, fennel, beets, brussels sprouts, watercress, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, turnips, potatoes, garlic, onions, etc.). This was very wise on God's part because many of the vegetables contain medicinal properties that are necessary to sustain us in a sinful, polluted world. This new diet was God's appointed diet for man.

I wonder if this can be verified from Jewish texts.

1 Answer 1


The Chizkuni provides examples:

את כל עשב זרע זרע כגון תבואה וקטנית ופירות האילן אלו הן למאכל אדם אבל לכל חית השדה נתתי את כל ירק עשב כגון כרוב תרדין וכיוצא בהן וכשחטא אדם נגזר עליו לאכול עשב שנאמר וקוץ ודרדר וגו׳‎ ואכלת את עשב השדה הוא שנאמר נמשל כבהמות נדמו שאם הותר לו בשר אם כן מצינו חוטא נשכר

את כל עשב זורע זרע, “all the herbs that perpetuate themselves by shedding their seed.” Examples are grains and vegetables such as peas and beans (lit. legumes), etc; as well as the fruit of the trees which contain stones or pips. All these were intended as food for the human race. The beasts of the field were assigned only simpler herbs, i.e. grass that did not perpetuate itself by shedding their seeds. As a result of man’s sin, G-d decreed that they would be limited to eating the same kind of food as did the animals. This is the deeper meaning of the verse in Genesis 3,18: קוץ ודרדר תצמיח לך ואכלת את עשב השדה, “the earth will grow thorns and thistles in (response to your efforts) so that you will be reduced to eating the grass of the field.” This is also reflected in Psalms 49,21: “he is like the beasts (that perish)”. If G-d had permitted man at that stage to eat meat, it would have been viewed as man being rewarded for having sinned.

The Malbim echoes this sentiment also saying "כגון התבואה והקטניות".

  • Would this include or exclude vegetables like potatoes, onions, etc? Interesting that the unsourced non-Jewish site I linked doesn't say that it was merely simple grass and the like that was for animals, but also leafy, flower, and root vegetables. This is still helpful though, so thank you!
    – setszu
    Jul 31, 2023 at 8:09
  • I'm afraid I can't answer more than this - and even then it is pretty generic i.e. grains and legumes. One can only really think out loud what that might qualify.
    – Dov
    Jul 31, 2023 at 8:13
  • 1
    Its okay, I still appreciate it a lot!
    – setszu
    Jul 31, 2023 at 8:14
  • How much time did he have in the garden? Was it enough to grab more than a quick bite?
    – rosends
    Jul 31, 2023 at 11:41

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