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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Purple Potatoes and Red Celery-New Vegetables

Have you heard of a purple potato or a red celery? Here's the latest two vegetables for you to try. Last week, I posted some information on the Purple Turnips, that I found very tasty as well as nutritious. I hope you will try it someday.

1. Purple potato goes on sale in UK supermarkets

Purple Majesty potatoes contain higher levels of the antioxidant anthocyanins
A purple potato that growers claim is healthier than the standard variety is going on sale in UK supermarkets. The Purple Majesty has a distinctive deep colour and contains up to 10 times the level of antioxidant, anthocyanins, compared with white potatoes. It was developed at Colorado State University from a traditional variety.
Despite its appearance, the potato now being grown by Perthshire producer Albert Bartlett after two years of trials, is not genetically modified.

Potatoes originate from the high reaches of the Andes and come in thousands of varieties, with many having developed deep red and purple colouring.The trials found that the Purple Majesty could be grown in Scotland. An initial crop of 400 tonnes of the variety will go on sale in Sainsbury's stores across Scotland and the south-east of England this week, with a larger yield expected next year.

Albert Bartlett, which has its headquarter in Airdrie, has been working with Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh and the Scottish Crop Research Institute to determine what health benefits there could be from eating the potato.

Dr Catherine Tsang, who took part in research, said: "Our research specifically looked at Purple Majesty potatoes which, unlike white potatoes, contain a natural pigment called anthocyanins.

"It's this pigment that gives the potato the purple appearance, but more importantly, it possesses antioxidant properties, which are maintained even after cooking."

She added: "We're all aware of the stories about red wine having a more positive effect on the heart than white wine, due to their higher levels of antioxidant.

Dr Tsang said anthocyanins contained antioxidant properties which some studies had suggested could have a positive effect on blood vessels and reducing blood pressure."

However, other studies have found little evidence of the conclusion.
2. Florida company introduces new, red celery

Is America ready for red celery? A Florida produce company thinks so and has bet consumers will bite on the colorful crunch of its new product. Red celery will hit selected supermarkets Dec. 1 — in time to add some eye-catching color to holiday tables, said Dan Duda, president of Duda Farm Fresh Foods, which was set to unveil the new celery at a produce industry trade show in Orlando, Fla., on Saturday.

"It's bright, it's red, it's different, it's unique," said Duda, who added that it has the same flavor and crunch of regular green celery.

It was nearly 20 years in the making, he said. One of the family owned company's celery breeders, Larry Pierce, started developing it in 1991, working off a European heritage variety using natural breeding methods.

Jean Ronnei, who oversees the award winning school meal programs of the St. Paul public schools, said the new celery could be a "perfect fit" for her cafeterias, which run "coolest new veggie" contests to encourage students to try fresh produce.

"We do eat with our eyes," Ronnei said, adding that she hoped it would be priced low enough for the school lunch market.

"If there are efforts under way to jazz up veggies, I'm all for that," she said.

Red celery will be test marketed first on the west coast and in the northwest and southwest, Duda said. It will carry a premium price that will vary by location as they gauge how much extra shoppers are willing to pay. It will be rolled out nationwide sometime later. Duda declined to go into much detail about the company's marketing plans for competitive reasons and would not say which retailers would carry it or specify which cities.

American consumers used an average of just over 6 pounds of fresh celery per person last year, compared with about 8 pounds of fresh carrots, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture. The 2009 celery crop totaled 1.97 billion pounds, with a total value of $364.8 million.

Based in Oviedo, Fla., Duda Farm Fresh Foods says it cultivates 39,000 acres of produce in Florida, Georgia, California, Arizona and Michigan and ranks as one of the world's largest celery producers.

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