Growing today’s most popular vegetables in your Mississippi garden
Story by Dr. Rick Snyder
Of all vegetables, which ones do you think Americans are eating more now than in recent years? Time’s up. The winner is cauliflower! As of last year’s data, we are eating 2.18 pounds per person, which is 38 percent higher than 2016 and 63 percent higher than 2010. That is a huge increase in a short time.
Did thousands of Americans just discover cauliflower? I don’t think that’s what is happening. More likely, we are experimenting more with novel recipes in the kitchen that include cauliflower.
Have you tried cauliflower rice? Cauliflower pizza crust? Cauliflower macaroni and cheese? Cauliflower fried rice? Well, these are some of the most searched words in Google that involve cauliflower.
Another vegetable that is doing very well in our consumption department is onion. We are now eating 21.19 pounds per person per year. This is 15 percent higher than 2016 and 12 percent higher than 2010. I’m really not surprised about this.
Onions go very well with so many cooked dishes, and work very well raw in vegetable salads, potato salads, etc. (Caution for dog owners – onions should not be fed to dogs. You’ll just have to pick up any pieces that drop on the floor and not count on Rover to slurp them up.)
Next in the popularity contest is sweet corn. We are consuming 7.52 pounds per person per year, as of 2017. This is 5 percent higher than 2016, but a whopping 19 percent lower than in 2010. Purchases may have dropped off due to weather related crop loss causing higher prices or any of a number of market related factors.
And the runner ups are bell peppers – 11.39 pounds per person, up 3 percent from 2016 and 10 percent from 2010, asparagus – 1.58 pounds per person, up 2 percent from 2016 1 percent from 2010, and cabbage – 5.98 pounds per person, up 2 percent from 2016 but down a huge 20 percent since 2010,
The big losers, vegetables that we are eating less of, start with head lettuce. Although we eat 13.27 pounds per person, this is still down 7 percent from 2016 and 17 percent from 2010. This makes sense.
Head lettuce refers to iceberg types – the firm, crisp, light green bowling balls that we all ate growing up. Our tastes have shifted to leaf lettuces and greens in a wide range of colors, textures, and flavors. This is a good thing. Iceberg has surprisingly little nutrition compared to newer salad greens. As nutritionists say, eat lots of colors. Salad greens are a great way to accomplish this.
Celery had also dropped off – down 24 percent since 2010. I guess the old days of having celery pieces stuffed with peanut butter have not competed well with the millions of other stacks being thrown our way.
Others that we eat less of include carrots and broccoli. Hmmm… Are we really eating so much cauliflower that we’re giving up on the old standbys? The good news for tomatoes is no change. We still eat about 20 pounds per person each year.
If you want to grow some of these in your garden, you are in luck. All vegetables mentioned here can be grown in Mississippi gardens.
Some of the new and exciting cauliflower varieties to consider are ‘Flamenco’, ‘Flame Star’ (orange colored), ‘Incline’, ‘Nebula’, and ‘Puntoverde’, a new green type.