Could Broccoli Leaves Be the Next Kale?

The story of how yesterday’s compost could become the juice of tomorrow.
Australian farmworkers picking broccoli and discarding lush green leaves like those coming to select markets soon. (Photo: Mick Tsikas/Reuters)
Aug 16, 2015· 1 MIN READ
John Walsh is an editorial intern at TakePart.

You may not even know that broccoli has leaves, but it does, and they boast health benefits that could rival the current dark leafy green getting all the attention: kale.

Fast Company reports the leaves that surround the broccoli crown are usually composted as fertilizer, but farmers for Foxy Organic Brand are hoping the product they’re calling BroccoLeaf will be just as popular as kale.

Despite claims to the contrary in the Fast Company story, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, by weight, broccoli leaves are not as nutritionally rich as kale. Kale has more calcium, iron, and potassium—and even a little more protein. Broccoli leaves do win when it comes to vitamin A, which is important to vision and skin health. Even if they don’t beat kale in every category, broccoli leaves are still a terrifically healthy food—and with the country’s obesity problem, Americans could stand to eat more leafy greens.

Besides, we’re already expending precious resources to grow broccoli leaves—namely, water. Eating the whole vegetable means less water waste in a time of historic drought on the West Coast—and BroccoLeaf hails from Salinas, California. If broccoli leaves don’t get all the price markups that come with being a premium vegetable, they might be a great way to get a new leafy green vegetable onto the table and help farmers cope with higher water prices.

Similar to kale, cabbage, and collards in texture, these greens taste faintly of broccoli, of course: earthy and bitter. They can be steamed, sautéed, grilled, or put into a smoothie. A spokesperson also tells Fast Company that BroccoLeaf is easier to juice than kale—a major claim in the health food world these days.

So far, broccoli leaves are available in markets in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco and are being used by a small group of restaurants and juice companies.