After decades of languishing at the bottom of the world’s favourite vegetable list, the (Brussels) sprout appears to be biting back. The British Sprout Growers Association has launched a campaign to remind the public that “a sprout is for life not just for Christmas,” and is adamant that the bitter taste most British consumers recall from childhood experience is no longer a feature of today’s varieties.

Originally thought to originate from Brussels (hence the name), these mini cabbage-style vegetables are unusually high in folic acid (hence the recommendation for pregnant women) but remarkably unpopular.

Some retailers have even dropped the Belgian prefix in a bid to convince consumers that modern sprouts have undergone a veritable vegetable renaissance over the last few years. The fresh produce buyer for UK supermarket chain Somerfield, David Stokes, explained that the store sees no reason why a vegetable that is so resonantly “British” should be called “Brussels.” In Somerfield’s aisles, Brussels sprouts have become British brassicas. 

Secretary for the association, Jane Dyas, explained to the impetus behind the new marketing operation: “Market research found out that a lot of people associate Brussels sprouts with memories of bitter tastes that were not well cooked, but now the seed varieties are sweeter so the growers have got together to say to people it’s worth trying them again… give them a go.” 

“We’re also giving recipe leaflets out to give a few different cooking ideas; so people don’t just boil sprouts and that’s it,” she added.

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Traditionally the Christmas plate bane of many generations, the association are hoping that very soon consumers will purchase (British) brassica oleracea with just as much stubborn regularity all year round.

 “Some say Britain is a nation possessing only three vegetables, and two of them are Brussels sprouts.”
The Great Food Almanac, Irena Chalmers, Collins Publishers, 1994. Page 68.

To see’s take on the revamp, have a look at the cartoon on the home page.