There is no such thing as wild broccoli
While there are various edible plants that can be found in the wild – like onions, asparagus and mushrooms – broccoli, however, isn’t among the lot. As a matter of fact, it is a product of human innovation. This tiny, tree-looking vegetable was actually bred out of the wild cabbage plant, by Etruscans – an ancient Italian civilisation who lived in what is now Tuscany.
Broccoli is native to the Mediterranean and was cultivated to have a specific taste and flavour that was more palatable to people. Its name was derived from the Italian word ‘broccolo’, referring to the flowering top of a cabbage – a tribute to its heritage.
Since the Roman Empire, broccoli has been considered a very valuable food by the Italians. It was in the 1500s that it started to be commercially cultivated. It was introduced to England in the mid-18th century where it was referred to as the ‘Italian asparagus’. Eventually, the green flowery vegetables gained popularity in the United States as southern Italian immigrants immigrated to the country in the 1920s.
Did you know?
- Broccoli comes in a variety of colours, ranging from deep sage all the way to dark green and purplish-green.
- Although they’re available all year round, it is said it is best from October to May.
- Want something high in vitamin C but don’t feel like eating fruit? 1 cup of chopped broccoli is equivalent to an orange’s vitamin C content.
- It contains kaempferol, a flavonoid which has anti-inflammatory effects that helps fight against cancer and heart disease. It has been also been shown to be prevent adult-onset diabetes.
- When left unharvested, its little florets will bloom into a bunch of yellow flowers.