Oklahoma Vegetable of the Month: Broccoli
Thomas Jefferson introduced broccoli in the US. He recorded his planting of broccoli on May 27, 1767. Although broccoli has been grown in the US for over 200 years it did not become a popular food until the 1920s, when Italian immigrants began planting and selling it. Broccoli was a popular vegetable in ancient Rome.
Broccoli is classified as a brassica vegetable, along with cabbage and cauliflower. It grows best in cool weather. In Oklahoma gardens it grows well if planted early in the spring or late in the summer for a fall garden.
Ounce for ounce, boiled broccoli has more vitamin C than an orange and as much calcium as a glass of milk, according to the USDA's nutrient database. One medium spear has three times more fiber than a slice of wheat bran bread. Broccoli is also one of the richest sources of vitamin A in the produce section. Researchers have found that, among other benefits, eating broccoli can help prevent several kinds of cancer, strokes and cataracts.
Lesson: Bring on the Brassica Veggies!
Broccoli (1/2 cup raw)
Percent daily values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.
Source: Center for Disease Control
Play With Your Food: We Eat the Broccoli Flower
Most kids first know broccoli as trees because they look like trees. Allow students to examine some broccoli florets. Ask which part of the plant we eat. Explain to students that the part of the broccoli we eat is actually the flower of the plant. More specifically, they are florets getting ready to bloom. Once they have bloomed, they don't taste as good. Broccoli that has started to bloom has a yellowish cast to it, because broccoli flowers are yellow. Ask studentsto name other vegetable flowers that we eat? (cauliflower)
Game: Root, Leaf, Fruit, Stem or Flower
Be a Food Explorer : Broccoli Forest
Make Broccoli Trees, with dipping sauce, using carrots for trunks and broccoli florets as the crown. Provide vegetables that are roots (carrots), stems (celery) and fruit (peppers). Students will sort according to the part of the plant we eat.
Hughes, Meredith Sales, Green Power: Leaf and Flower Vegetables, Lerner, 2001. (Grades 5-7)
Oklahoma Ag in the Classroom is a program of the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service, the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry and the Oklahoma State Department of Education.