Asian greens seem to be gaining more and more popularity in the market. Traditionally being sold in full-size bunches to use in stir-fries and soups in the East, now they are being prepared in all sorts of salads in the United States because of their unique coloring and textures.
There are a variety of colors, flavors and textures of Asian greens that allow growers to have the edge on presentation of the unique vegetables.
Wanda Laughlin, an agricultural assistant with the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences for the Suwannee Valley Agricultural Extension Center (SVAEC), discusses the rise in popularity of Asian greens and the research trials she is working on.
“People that want to eat fresh and healthy are moving towards more green foods that are fast and easy to grow and (can be bought) local,” says Laughlin. “Plus, in university towns, you have a more diverse population so people are more open-minded towards trying new things. And that’s where the bokchoys, which have been around for forever, are starting to gain popularity with ‘foodie’ types.”
According to Laughlin, traditional lettuce heads, such as iceberg lettuce, have seen a decrease in popularity and do not do well in the Florida high temperatures.
Concerning the current trials on Asian greens at the SVAEC, Laughlin explains that researchers are “observing plant density, bolting, tip burn, overall color and total yield weight in the pots” and are trying to “see which ones will grow in a more inclement environment, as in the Florida heat. We are trying to see which ones will tolerate the heat, humidity and disease resistance.”
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