Today we are so excited to share more about how one of our favorite veggies grows! Of course, we are talking about broccoli! Either loved or “not loved,” there are always strong feelings about this vegetable.

It dates back to the Etruscans, an ancient Italian civilization who cultivated the vegetable around the 6th Century BC. The Romans then adopted a love for this “super” vegetable.

Incredibly, this cruciferous vegetable is actually a flower that starts out as a wild mustard plant that produces big green heads on thick stalks. It starts with multiple small clusters of purple or white buds that can be found on the tips of long, leafy stems that can grow up to three-feet tall and can take eight months or more to mature. Broccoli produces flowers that send up a main stalk with branching floral spikes or stems. Once the small yellow flowers bloom the vegetable becomes tough and bitter where it should be harvested when it’s still in the flower bud stage.

A member of the cole crop family (Brassica oleracea), which includes cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, collards, kale, and kohlrabi, broccoli flowers are cool-season vegetables that take time to mature. This temperature-sensitive vegetable requires cool air and soil to grow and doesn’t tolerate heat very well. When the crown or center stalk head grows wider with multiple green buds, stems branching off the main stalk will produce green buds tightly packed around the crown. Then, the flowerheads will separate between the stems and crown where the green buds begin to take on a yellow color. Once the process begins it only takes several days for the buds to bloom, turning broccoli into a grainy, bitter vegetable. Believe it or not, the entire plant is edible. In addition to the florets and stems, broccoli leaves and stalks also belong on your dinner plate. Many ways to prepare; broccoli can be steamed, roasted, fried or just eaten raw.

The inspiration for my book’s main character, Veggieman, is actually from broccoli. Look at him! Doesn’t he look like a broccoli head?

Enjoy this delicious vegetable with your family as you appreciate its incredible journey.

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