The Broccoli Raab/Rabe Scam and how to avoid it
Many “broccoli” sprouting seeds on sale are actually Broccoli Raab, which is part of the turnip family, it has turnip like leaves and small heads which look a little like broccoli, but that’s all. Scientific studies show that Broccoli Raab is very low in glucosinolates, which are the cancer fighting compounds that have made real broccoli so famous. (2) This means people are being conned. Some suppliers don’t know what they are selling, the wholesalers have been substituting Broccoli Raab for broccoli for a long time because it grows much faster than normal broccoli, so it is easier to produce seeds. People are now on to this. DO NOT BUY BROCCOLI SEEDS UNLESS THEY SPECIFY WHAT THEY KIND THEY ARE. Real Broccoli seeds have their genus name such as Broccoli Oleracea, Italica or Calabrese, and are rich in glucosinoates (1). If a listing just says broccoli seeds, it’s probably Raab that you’re buying.
If you already have some broccoli raab seeds, go ahead and sprout them. They are still a great sprout. They contain Vitamins A, C, D, E and K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, B6, folate, Pantothenic Acid, Choline, Betaine, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sodium, Zinc, Manganese, and Selenium (3) They also have small amounts of glucosinolates so you are getting something. Or grow them in the garden, rapini is fast growing and makes a wonderful full grown vegetable, used a lot in Italian cooking.
- The development of a food composition database for the estimation of dietary intakes of glucosinolates, the biologically active consituents of cruciferous vegetables. MC Naughton & Marks (2003) BR J Nutri
- Glucoraphanin and 4-Hydroxyglucobrassicin Contents in Seeds of 59 Cultivars of Broccoli, Raab, Kohlrabi, Radish, Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts, Kale, and Cabbage March 2004 Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 52(4):916-26
- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/Taxonomy/Browser/wwwtax.cgi?mode=Info&id=1204434 This is a food nutrition database, I used figures for “Rapini”
The cress scam
Sadly theres a massive cress scam going on where supermarkets sell little pots of sprouts and call them “cress salad”. However if you look at the ingredients they are in fact mainly rape Seed with just 15% cress. Sadly it’s not illegal, if you add the word “salad” to a product you can put what you like in it! Rape sprouts are very bland compared the the wonderful spicy cress and most of all they don’t contain many glucosinolates (cancer fighting compounds) or other health benefits of cress. No wonder cress has gone out of fashion
The counting the seeds scam
Lots of sellers of sprouting seeds bamboozle customers with how many seeds you are getting rather than selling them by gram. With broccoli and radish, the seeds are the size of a pinhead and you get hundreds per teaspoonful. So it sounds lovely to buy 1,000 seeds or 3,000 even but actually that will only give you enough for one batch of sprouts. If you are buying seeds for the garden, a thousand seeds is a lot but for sprouting ALWAYS BUY BY THE GRAM!!