Noted health and nutrition guru Dr. Andrew Weil calls them some of the most overlooked and under-appreciated foodstuffs around. Root vegetables, those veggies that grow underground—rutabegas, beets, turnips, parsnips—are also growing in popularity these days. (We’re not talking about the more commonplace potatoes and carrots here, we’re focusing on the unsung subterranean treasures.)
Bon appétit magazine has made root vegetables and recipes a feature story in the October 2010 issue, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) honored them as the vegetable of the month. Food writer Andrea Chesman recently devoted an entire cookbook to recipes from the root cellar.
Heck, root vegetables have their own Facebook page.
Root vegetables are nutritional storehouses and, unlike most other vegetables, are readily available fresh during the cold weather months. Plus, their cost is quite reasonable, which may be another reason for their revival in these tough economic times.
Root vegetables can be stored for extended periods of time. Harvested at their peak in the fall, they become a reliable food supply for the winter. Ages ago, people had root cellars to house their underground jewels through the cold months. It’s still best to store root veggies in a cool, dark place.
More root vegetables are finding their way onto restaurant menus these days, too. Milwaukee chef John Raymond showcases root vegetables at his Roots Restaurant and Cellar when they’re in season.
Quoted in a story by Karen Herzog for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Chef Raymond says, “Root vegetables cross all cultures and cuisines. We can travel to Mexico and the Southwest by using jicama and yucca root, (to) Europe with celeriac, parsnip and burdock. And one of Roots’ favorites, the sunchoke, is a native to North America.”
Whatever the root causes, these underappreciated vegetables finally seem to be getting at least some measure of appreciation.
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