Cauliflower has been enjoying something of a comeback in recent months as retailers stock more colorful varieties besides the creamy-white curds that traditionally greet shoppers.
“2006 was the first year that we had good, steady volume of product,” said Matt Seeley, marketing director of the Nunes Co., the Salinas, Calif. grower/shipper of the Foxy brand, and the country's principal supplier of purple cauliflower. The company has been offering it for nearly two years now, but a new health message is beginning to catch the attention of consumers and retailers alike.
“The big thing is that this cauliflower has 10 times the level of antioxidants than traditional white cauliflower,” Seeley said, adding that the compound that gives the cauliflower its purple tint is the same as found in red wine.
Other growers offer orange or cheddar-colored heads, from a variety that's been around slightly longer than the purple and is rich in beta carotene. The chartreuse heads, known as Romanesco, sport a bright floral flavor. And even though the hues have made for eye-catching displays in the past, the health benefits associated with each color are what's behind recent sales growth.
That said, retailers don't need a color palette to paint the vegetable's nutritional profile. According to the USDA, one serving of cauliflower offers nearly 100% of the recommended daily value of Vitamin C, 15% of folate needs and 2 grams of fiber. The folate concerns women in particular, since it has been proven to prevent anemia during pregnancy.
Humorist Mark Twain once called cauliflower “nothing but cabbage with a college education.”
If that's the case, then it seems cauliflower is finally getting its master's degree in health.