A Flower Like No Other: A History of Cauliflower


A Flower Like No Other: A History of Cauliflower

Cauliflower is one of several vegetables in the cruciferous, or brassica, family. This family also includes broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and kale. It’s the white flesh of the cauliflower that makes it stand out from the rest, but that’s not the only color you’ll find in this super-veggie. It also comes in:

• Orange – This mutation originated in a field in Canada. It contains a high amount of beta-carotene, a vitamin A, a compound that gives it this pretty color.
• Green – Sometimes called broccoflower, this color was developed in the early 1990’s. It can be found in several varieties and two distinct shapes.
• Purple – The purple color is due to a water soluble pigment called anthocyanin, found in many other vegetables and plant-products like red cabbage and red wine.

All colors are perfect for adding to a vegetable tray, including in a stir fry, or making a pretty soup.

The History

Cauliflower has been around for centuries. First described in 1st century author and naturalist Pliny the Elder’s book, Natural History, it was referred to as cyma, and was slightly different than our modern version. Cauliflower was associated with the island of Cyprus through the Middle Ages, and it was introduced into Western Europe in the 12th and 13th centuries. It wasn’t until the late 1600s that it began to appear on dining tables regularly, having been introduced to France from Italy. In 1822, England introduced cauliflower to India, and the rest is history.

The Four Groups

Today, there are hundreds of commercial varieties of cauliflower grown in different regions around the world. But they all stem from the four major groups:

• Italian – The ancestral form from which all others were cultivated, it includes several of the colored varieties.

• Northern European annuals – Developed in Germany in the 18th century, it’s used in Europe and North America in summer and fall harvest.

• Northwest European biennial – Developed in France in the 19th century, it’s used in Europe for winter and early spring harvest.

• Asian – Developed in India in the 19th century, it is a tropical cauliflower used in China and India.

The Benefits

Much like its cruciferous counterparts, cauliflower is packed full of antioxidants, phytochemicals, and enzymes that are good for your health. Cauliflower is also packed with vitamins E, K, and C. Some of the health benefits of cauliflower include:

• Cancer prevention – It helps destroy stem cells and slows down tumor growth. Effective in preventing bladder, breast, colon, prostate, liver, and lung cancers.

• Digestion improvement – A good source of fiber, it can aid issues such as IBS, constipation, and stomach infections.

• Brain function – High in choline, it helps promote brain function and intellectual capacity.

• Weight control – The high fiber and water content make this a low-calorie, high-nutrient food that aids in weight loss. It also flushes toxins from the body that can slow your metabolism.

So what are you waiting for? Grab a cup of cauliflower soup and enjoy everything this flowery head has to offer.

Come on into our Soup Studio in Agoura Hills and try any of our soups including squash and our new ramen. If you’re not juicing you should be souping.

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