Brilliant Brassicas

You may never have heard of a brassica but we can almost guarantee that you know the members of this vegetable family pretty well. It covers everything from the humble white cabbage to the exuberant yellow fields of Oil Seed Rape that bloom in the summer. It’s the peppery rocket in your posh summer salad and the burning heat in your jar of Colman’s mustard. These simple little plants can do it all, taste delicious, solve climate change and cure disease.

Now you might be thinking that you’ve heard some outlandish claims about superfoods before but solving climate change is a bit farfetched. But bear with us. One of the things that makes Brassicas so wonderful is the amazing chemical compounds that they produce - many of which are super useful to us humans. Also known as mustard greens one of the things these plants produce in profusion is oil-packed seed pods, which with a bit of scientific know-how transform into 75% of the biodiesel used in the EU – replacing far more harmful fossil fuels.

These clever greens are not just good for cars they are also great for people. Among the many compounds that they produce are vitamins A, C, E and K and they are a brilliant source of iron, calcium, potassium, and fiber, all of which keep you healthy. But what makes brassicas stand out from the fruit and veg crowd is glucosinolates. These compounds are what give brassicas their characteristic peppery bitter flavors but have also been shown to have anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties as well as being used in some studies to combat cancer.

Now we aren’t saying that you can chuck out your anti-bacterial hand gel and start cleaning your hands with a kale smoothie. What we are saying is that a heaped pile of lightly steamed brassicas with a little olive oil and chili can form a really important part of a healthy diet and contribute to your body’s overall ability to fight disease. Luckily for us, these brilliant plants grow really well in the rich soils around Portsmouth and Southsea. Here at Be Locals, we’ve always got some sort of brassica on offer, which varieties changing as the seasons do. Right now you can get your hands on the delicious and nutty January King cabbage or the vibrant tundra cabbage which is perfect eaten raw to preserve all those important vitamins, minerals and glucosinolates.

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