The broccoli plant is a distant cousin of the common cabbage as it also belongs to the Brassicaceae family.
With broccoli, though, the main edible parts are actually the stalk and flowers instead of the leaves (although you can eat them too).
So what is it with broccoli, and why is it so controversial? We’d better take a closer look and find out!
Broccoli was highly valued by the Romans.
The history of broccoli goes back much further than you’d think.
Like many other vegetables we eat today, broccoli was cultivated from a mix of different plants and then selectively bred to become the vegetable we know today.
This vegetable’s history goes back to the Etruscans, an ancient Italian civilization that predated the Roman Empire.
The Etruscan people cultivated the vegetable sometime around the 6th Century BC.
The Romans adopted many aspects of Etruscan culture, including their love for broccoli.
England called it Italian asparagus.
As we’ve previously mentioned, broccoli is a part of the same family as cabbage, a large family that includes cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, collard greens, and kohlrabi.
Despite this, when the vegetable first made it to England, it was instead associated with asparagus.
In fact, despite being a favored food of the Romans, it seems that it took a long time to spread further than Italy.
The earliest report of it in France, for example, is as late as the 1500s!
More than 200 years later, it was still relatively unknown in England, with it being called “Italian asparagus” in a popular gardening dictionary.
It wasn’t until the 1920s that broccoli became common in the US.
One of the first records we have relating to broccoli in the US goes back to the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson.
See, Jefferson had a bit of a green thumb, and as such, he would frequently share seeds with some of his friends over in Europe.
One such packet of seeds that he received were broccoli seeds, which he noted sowing at his estate in Virginia on May 27, 1767.
It wasn’t until much later in the 1920s that broccoli became a common sight when Italian migrants brought it over and regularly consumed them.
Even then, it was almost exclusively eaten by Italian migrants and their descendants for decades before becoming a bit more mainstream.
George H. W. Bush banned broccoli on Air Force One.
Some people hate broccoli, and then there are people that hate broccoli so much that they publicly declare that they never want to see the vegetable ever again.
Believe it or not, that man was the 41st president of the United States of America, George H. W. Bush.
While in a press conference, Bush stated (and I kid you not) “I do not like broccoli, and I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it, and I’m president of the United States, and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli.”
He made this declaration when asked why he had banned the vegetable from all Air Force One flights.
Broccoli is really good for your health!
First things first, if you know how to cook broccoli well, it can be absolutely delicious.
Most people who dislike it, probably including George H. W. Bush, have simply only ever been fed it in an over-cooked mushy gross state.
The truth is that broccoli is incredibly good for you, so good that the term “superfood” is quite often thrown around in association with it.
It’s high in protein, fiber, vitamin C and is a good source of vitamin A, vitamin B6, potassium, and calcium, among many others.
It’s also full of antioxidants, is good for your digestion, and is even claimed to help prevent cancer!
It’s time to end the stigma against broccoli.
There’s no such thing as a bad vegetable, but there’s definitely such a thing as a bad cook.
If you’ve never been a fan of a vegetable such as broccoli, maybe go and ask a friend who likes cooking to serve some up to you.
Better yet, try your hand at cooking it; it’s really not that difficult!
If you still don’t like it, then fair enough, at least you got a good amount of vitamins and minerals in the process!