Vegetables are more than just your 5-a-day

I often find myself in that bleary half-awake dream state at 3am, only to be jolted awake by an all-consuming worry or an earth-quaking epiphanic moment. The other night, I experienced both at the same time. I was gripped, I was restless, I was shook: why doesn’t England have a national vegetable?

Now, as I’m sure you’ll all agree, in a world struck by political turmoil and injustice, this is an incredibly pressing question. Wales has their leek, Ireland can lay claim to the potato, proud Scots love their neeps (that’s turnips or swedes to the rest of us). Even our European neighbours (or kinda neighbours #Brexit) can proudly boast of veg quintessential to their country: the French have onions, Eastern Europeans have the beetroot and cabbage, and Italians the tomato.

So why are we, the English people, slighted in this way? We deserve more. We deserve recognition for our mediocrity, poor decisions and divisive politics. So here is my solution: below is my effort to list as many vegetables as I am capable of (trust me, when you understand my familiarity with greens, you’ll realise the struggle I encountered creating such a list), in order to perfect our vegetal image.

Asparagus is a strong contender for an English vegetable, coming into season at a patriotic peak – St George’s Day. Yet who wants to be allied with a stinky-pee vegetable? Picture the Tudor Rose entwined with a porcelain throne full of pungent piss – not quite cohesive (though not entirely unsubstantiated considering some of the smells I’ve encountered emanating from English pits).

“I was gripped, I was restless, I was shook: why doesn’t England have a national vegetable?”

Carrots are also often associated with England, but not the white wild carrots native to Britain – the orange carrot, developed in the Netherlands during the reign of William of Orange is sadly not really very English at all.

Cabbage? Another English fave (for what reason is another question) yet the stench of sweaty, overcooked school dinners does not really sum up an England I’d love to represent. Plus, surely England can do better than the anemic cauliflower?

As for other veg…

Kale – too faddish. Aubergine – too phallic.

Artichoke – too Waitrose. Chickpeas – too foreign.

Celery – too gross. Broccoli – too boring.

Peppers – too strong. Lettuce – too pathetic.

Mushrooms – too slimy. Radish – too niche.

Spinach – too Popeye. Peas – too small.

Brussel sprouts – too hated. Sweetcorn – too sweet.

So what would I suggest we tout as England’s vegetable? What could possibly remain after that long list of legumes? What can truly unite the English people?

Easy really – it’s got to be baked beans.

Traditional English fare – good in toasties and with fish fingers; great on a fry-up; great when cold, straight from the tin on DofE. Served as a side at the iconic chain KFC (no reputable English town is found without one), and counting as one of your five-a-day, there’s nothing the baked bean can’t perk up. They’re an ally to the hungry; they’re cheap and cheerful; they’re the best sub for ketchup and even have their own playground rhyme (beans, beans, good for your heart…). We English should be proud of our heritage; we can make a beautifully balanced meal from just beans and bread, a thought which seems horrifying to our transatlantic pals. Whether you stand on the traditionalist side with Heinz or like to spice up your beans with the Branston brand, ultimately beans unite – their orangey goodness is surely emblematic of everything good in this bleak, bleak world

Martin Stott

In search of a ‘national vegetable’

Posted on July 6, 2016

So it looks as if the UK will definitely be leaving the EU ….sometime. This historic moment has prompted me think about what our ‘national vegetable’ might be in these turbulent times. And being as the times are so turbulent, what the constituent national vegetables of the nations in the British Isles might be, as we go our separate ways. Lets start with the easy one; Wales. They already have a national vegetable, the leek. A good choice, so easy to grow, tasty, versatile and nutritious. But officially.. no other nation has such a vegetable. So here goes with some suggestions. Scotland. The national dish, haggis, is normally eaten with ‘neeps and tatties’. Far from being turnips, ‘neeps’ are actually swedes. Understandably popular on Burns Night which falls in January when there isn’t a lot else around – but hardly a vegetable to set the heart racing. How about a variation on the national flower, the thistle? The cardoon perhaps? or the artichoke? Looks much better on the menu of a swish Edinburgh eatery. Ireland? The obvious suggestion is the potato and indeed there a is even a ‘Tayto’ theme park in the Republic and the internet swirls with articles of the ‘Thirteen reasons why the potato is the Irish national vegetable’ – variety. But the potato is a staple, and redolent with the suffering of the Famine of the 1840’s. Hardly something to celebrate. How about the garden pea? There are some good Irish-sounding varieties like the Danny O’Rourke. And it is popular in Ireland. For the traditionalist perhaps caragheen, gathered from the seashore and popular in seafood restaurants might command support? The cabbage too has its supporters. After all colcannon or ‘champ’ made with cabbage and potato and often eaten with sausages, is a classic Irish dish, north and south. Would the North have its own? Hmmm… Didn’t someone once say ‘oranges are not the only vegetable’, or something like that. Lets move on. England. So many vegetables, so many contenders. From the root vegetable world, lets hear it for the carrot, and the parsnip. Such classics of English cuisine. For the more advanced palate the asparagus perhaps? A reminder of Spring, ready from St George’s Day. But perhaps that is its problem; too seasonal. Of course the English regions are asserting themselves these days too. So how about the ‘national’ vegetable of Yorkshire. Rhubarb obviously. Yorkshire, home of the ‘rhubarb triangle’. Most people think it is fruit, but it isn’t. Isle of Wight? Not independent yet, but who knows. Home of England’s only garlic festival, it has to be garlic. But who wears the crown of being England’s truly national vegetable? Something we have as part of the traditional Christmas dinner perhaps. Maybe the roast potato, but the potato is too closely associated with Ireland to really work; parsnip is definitely a contender, but what else graces the Christmas platter? Why the brussels sprout of course. Step forward…. the English national vegetable. Eat your heart out Nigel Farage, those perfidious Europeans have triumphed again.

(Picture: Nick Ansell/PA Wire)

Broccoli is Britain’s favourite vegetable, according to a new survey.

KFC’s vegan burger is half price for one day only

The study, commissioned by Diabetes UK, sees it beat trendier veg like kale (Britain’s least favourite veggie, apparently) to the top spot. Much of broccoli’s improved PR is down to its rebrand as a ‘superfood’.

This quite simply will not do.

Yeah, yeah, so broccoli is a source of vitamins C, A and K, calcium, fibre and a bunch of cancer fighting compounds.

But there’s a reason why it was the gross vegetable of choice in kids’ cartoons and adverts. It’s just so…boring.

A good vegetable divides opinion and starts conversations. Just look at the humble, hated sprout – some evangelise for it, others would never touch it. It’s edgy. It’s controversial. It’s better than broccoli.

The potato, which is better than broccoli. (Picture: Getty Images)

The full list is of people’s favourite vegetables is, quite frankly, abysmal:

Britons’ favourite vegetables:

  • Broccoli
  • Sweetcorn
  • Tomato
  • Mushroom
  • Carrot
  • Pea
  • Brussels
  • Cauliflower
  • Asparagus
  • Green bean

Sweetcorn, objectively the very worst vegetable of all, at number two.

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Tomatoes, which are only good on pizza or in juice form in a Bloody Mary, in third place.

Cauliflower – the actually good version of broccoli, mostly because it normally comes covered in cheese – flounders at number eight.

There is no justice. Peas and carrots – again, veg that suffers from a distinct lack of personality – above flavourful sprouts and asparagus. Despicable.

But there is some good news: we can now reveal, for the first time, an objective list of the very best vegetables.

My definitive (correct) ranking of vegetables:

  • Does ‘potato’ count as a vegetable? Probably. So: potato
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Potato
  • Potato
  • Spring onions
  • Cauliflower
  • Potato
  • Asparagus
  • Potato
  • Potato

Thank you for listening.

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10 pictures that show your daily recommended servings of fruits and vegetables

What’s the most important part of a nutritious diet? Most of us can automatically recite the answer: fruits and vegetables. And yet it can be tough to eat the daily recommended amount of produce, and most Americans simply don’t. I’ve certainly been among that 75% — the estimated percentage of us who don’t eat enough veggies.

I realized, though, that part of the problem was that I didn’t really understand how much we were talking about. What does a daily recommended amount of fruits and vegetables look like? I decided to find out, once and for all. Here are 10 photos of fruits and vegetables, each one a complete daily serving. It might not be as much as you think!

How many Americans don’t eat enough veggies?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in 2010 that only 33% of adults were eating the daily recommended amount of fruit, and even fewer — 27% — were meeting their veggie quota. And that’s adults; the numbers for teens were worse.

But instead of bemoaning the lack of moral (or, you know, vegetable) fiber of our diet today, let’s make it easier to eat more fruits and vegetables. For me, it really helps to have a handle on what exactly, is recommended.

What’s a daily recommended serving?

There’s not a lot that nutrition scientists agree on, but almost everyone seems to think we should eat more vegetables, and that they should make up a greater part of our plates. To this end, they recommend a very basic guideline:

Someone who needs 2000 calories a day should eat:

  • 2 cups of fruit
  • 2 1/2 cups of vegetables

These recommended servings come from widely accepted dietary guidelines that are still, of course, just rough guidelines. Everyone is different, and has different nutritional needs, so there’s no one-size-fits-all plan, and perhaps you eat a lot more veggies than this every day (or a lot less fruit).

While that 2000 calorie standard is an average that suits a lot of people, of course it doesn’t fit everyone. Fruit and vegetable servings are calibrated off of calorie requirements, which in turn are set by a person’s sex, age, and activity level.

I stuck with the calorie baseline above, which happens to fit my own profile. I worked up all these daily servings for someone like me:

  • A 30-something, moderately active woman
  • Someone who eats, on average, 2000 calories a day

If your activity level is lower or higher, or you are older or younger, you probably have different calorie requirements and therefore different recommended servings of fruits and vegetables. But it’s easy to add or subtract once you have an eye for a cup of fruit or vegetables.

Calculate your own daily recommended servings of fruit & vegetables: The Fruit & Vegetable Calculator at the CDC

A few tips on calculating fruit & vegetable servings

How do servings work? For the most part, a cup means a cup — just measure out a cup of grapes or a cup of chopped carrots, and ta-da, you have your measurement. There are a few exceptions, though.

  • When it comes to salad, a cup is not a cup. It takes 2 cups of leafy greens to equal 1 cup of vegetables.
  • Juice does count as a fruit. According to the CDC, a cup of fruit juice does count as a serving of fruit, but nutritionists caution that you’re not getting the fiber and other good benefits of eating whole fruit.
  • When it comes to dried fruit, cut the amount in half. A half cup of dried fruit equals one cup of fresh fruit.
  • One big piece of fruit is roughly a cup. An apple, an orange, a large banana, a nectarine, a grapefruit — one piece of fruit gives you one cup.

A daily serving of fruits & vegetables: 10 ways

With those caveats, here are 10 looks at a full daily serving of fruits and vegetables.

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