All vegetables are above average

Sweet Tatorman's picture

Has anyone else noticed the trend in the past few decades that any online discussion of any particular vegetable includes the seemingly obligatory "excellent source of blah, blah, blah". No one seems to be willing to say that any vegetable is middling or worst than most. I was reminded of this a few days ago when I finally got around to trying young cowpea leaves as a cooked green. Years ago when I was first talked into growing cowpeas I did a bit of research and repeatedly encountered statements regarding the leaves as greens to the effect of "highly nutritious". I checked my go to reference on nutrition, the USDA Nutrition Database, and compared it's nutritional attributes to the various other greens I eat and found that with the exception of protein and folate, it is below the average of the bunch in most individual nutrients. It is about average for folate and does lead the pack for protein.
Here is a link to an earlier thread about the USDA Nutrition Database:

I've noticed that too: the Lake Woebegone effect for produce.

I think it might be a marketing device. The Cowpea Growers' Association wants you to eat more cowpeas so they have to give you a reason to eat them as opposed to say, black-eyed peas.

Also, the USDA wants to promote anything that farmers grow so why not tout nutritional aspects?

David Trammel's picture

I've found my food tastes have changed as I age. I hated sauerkraut when I was younger, now not so much. Good with corned beef. Will probably plant a few cabbages just to make some.

I also think that the food we get now is bland and over spiced with manufactured "salty/sweet" taste that packaged food sellers found was the key to selling us everything. Those of us who garden are finding out that food tastes much different than we thought.

Also, varieties have differences in flavor as well. Somethings taste different even though the "bean" is a bean.

ClareBroommaker's picture

Strong and good looking veggies, too, aren't they?

I've participated in the vegetable nutrition promotion myself. I've often repeated the claim that purslane has a lot of omega 3 fatty acids. The USDA link provides no evidence.

I'll have to look up eggplant. In my mid that is one vegetable that is just a carrier for other deliciousness. All fiber, no fire.

David Trammel's picture

Try this link, it offers a bunch of links on each nutritional claim including the omega 3. Interestingly, growing it in the shade increases the amount in the leaves.

lathechuck's picture

Looking through the nutrition charts, sometimes something that I've always heard to be nutritious shows up way down on the list. I don't have an example at hand, but some vegetable might be described as "high in protein", but only when compared to other vegetable sources. It turns out to have a small fraction of the nutrient value of an animal source. "High-protein wheat" might be an example.