Sources say there is a hidden demand for these little green cabbages

 You know Brussels sprouts. You probably know them a little too well.

Recall memories of growing up with your mom scooping them on to your plate during the holiday season, without you even asking for them. You hated them and you knew the adults around the table hated them too, despite their poker faces.

Now there are tons of recipes to help make sure the little green buggers won’t taste so bad. You fry them up in some kind of fat, throw a pound of bacon on them or maybe you go the old fashioned way and try and drown them in gravy.

Either way, it would be really hard to believe having Brussels sprouts at the dinner table during any old regular day of the year, right?

But for some people eating the sprouts regularly is not weird at all and they are seeing demand for Brussels outside of Christmas and Thanksgiving.

Popular at farmers markets

Shelley Bradshaw, a member of the Innisfail Growers and a Brussels sprouts farmer, sells a total of 6,500 stocks of the vegetable each year.

She explains that while the Brussels are more popular during the holiday season, she still has buyers year-round.

“Today’s consumer is looking for locally grown veggies with high nutritional values, and something different to put on their plate.”

In addition, she says, “once they try fresh, locally grown (Brussels sprouts), they realize, the taste is incomparable to what they are accustom to purchasing in the grocery store.”

Bradshaw says selling the Brussels sprouts on the stock, which also preserves their nutrients, is also something new and interesting to customers.

But according to Bradshaw, supermarkets just aren’t selling the Brussels like the markets are.

“Grocery stores simply don’t have the staff or desire to promote the product, and samples only sell when the product being tasted is superior in some way to what the customer is accustom to,” says Bradshaw.Brussels sprouts on the stock grown by Shelley Bradshaw and sold at the various farmers’  markets in Calgary.

Photo courtesy of Shelley Bradshaw 

Rob Gerlsbeck, editor for the Canadian Grocer Magazine, agrees there could be a hidden demand for the sprouts and states they are becoming part of the next big trend in veggies.

For his part, he says that he has never had trouble finding them at grocery stores. As far as he knows they “are always kind of on that far corner shelf by the carrots and the beets” even when it’s not the holiday times.

But he agrees that there could be a demand for the sprouts, and that the old-timey veggies such as the Brussels, are actually like the ‘new bacon’.

“Whether it’s beets or Brussels sprouts, kind of the really heavy, dense vegetables, the ones that kids don’t like to eat, a lot more chefs are actually using those. Not as side dishes, but actually kind of almost a replacement for meat. It becomes the main course,” says Gerlsbeck.

The Brussels, and those other old-like veggies, are now travelling from the plates of high end restaurants to plates at home.

“The way the food industry works is that trends start in high-end restaurants. They work their way down to mainstream restaurants and then their way into the grocery channel,” Gerlsbeck explains.

So, if your plate isn’t loaded up with the mini-cabbages, you aren’t keeping up with the latest food trends.

kbrown@cjournal.ca