How about some sauerkraut?

Sauerkraut: humble, cheap, tasty and very, very good for you.

Sauerkraut: humble, cheap, tasty and very, very good for you.

Never the preferred food of kings, cabbage may always be the homeliest of vegetables and the humblest head of greens on the farm. Best friend to the grubby potato and overcooked gristle, cabbage never brags, never puts on airs, never forgets its peasant roots and lowly caste. It may secretly covet the princely stone fruits, look dreamily upon the rows of cherished butter lettuce and resent all heirloom tomatoes.

But add some salt and let it turn, and cabbage becomes sauerkraut, the hallowed saint of the raw-food revolution. Flavorful and crawling with critters like lactobacillus and acetobacter, sauerkraut—essentially the Germanic rendition of kimchi—can be used as a cheap topping for hot dogs, a gourmet health food and anything in between.

Just be sure it’s raw, because big-scale manufacturers usually cook their kraut, essentially rendering sour cabbage that’s been boiled to death.

David Cornelius, co-manager at Farmhouse Culture—a kraut company in Santa Cruz—so believes in the probiotic value of sauerkraut that he eats it with almost every meal. This winter, he even dolloped an experimental candy cap mushroom and yam sauerkraut on pancakes, and every morning he drinks a shot of kraut juice, the rich and teeming sludge drawn from the bottom of the fermenting barrels.

Farmhouse Culture’s krauts—all organic and all featuring local ingredients like apples, fennel, leeks, jalapeños and candy caps—can be found at the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op and at Whole Foods Markets.

Between juggling cellphones, weaving through traffic, shopping and generally keeping pace with this busy world, few people have time to make things, but kraut is so easy. Mix 3 tablespoons of salt with 5 pounds of shredded cabbage, press it into the bottom of a clean crock pot, and weigh it down with a heavy dinner plate to keep the cabbage submerged in its own briny juices. Fermentation happens spontaneously, and after a week or three when the bubbling stops, the kraut is ready. Jar it and eat it raw.