A new attempt to solve the endemic problem of children refusing to eat enough fruit and vegetables has been developed by the vegetable grower Staples Vegetables in Lincolnshire. Using specially grown seeds called Graffiti, a new variety of cauliflower has been grown which hopes to become a hit with youngsters. What makes it so special? It's red.

A antioxidant compound called anthocyanins, which is found in red wine and red cabbage and has some claim to protection against some cancers, was used in the development of the new cauliflower variety. Its producers stress, however, that the vegetable is not genetically modified, because anthocyanins occur naturally.

The vegetable has undergone a series of trials and it is now hoped that sales will do well. Currently retailing in supermarkets such as Morrison and Safeway at 69p, orders are also being put together for caterers and wholesalers: Vernon Read, managing director of Staples Vegetables, explains that: "The new cauliflower is appealing to restaurants because it gives dishes a distinctive colour."

Read explained to just-food.com that promotions have recently concentrated on selling the idea of the vegetable to schoolchildren. He commented that: "We think the new colour will appeal to young people because they see it is something new, something different, and want to give it a try."

It is hoped that the vegetable will be included on school menus. A general manager for a catering company, Anne Lloyd-Evans helped to develop the concept, and she said: "Often the only way to get children to eat any vegetables in schools today is to present them raw in salad. Children could be interested in red cauliflower and eating one vegetable can lead to easier acceptance of others."

Read stressed that the vegetable is best used in stir-fry, or steamed, as boiling can dull its colour. It also serves well as a dip, and as Lloyd-Evans explained, "children like finger foods."

Our staple greens never looked so good.


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