Broccoli (Brassica oleracea var botrytis) is a member of the Brassicaceae. It originated from wild mustard plants and is a derivative of cabbage.

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Broccoli ranks among the top 20 foods in regards to ANDI score (Aggregate Nutrient Density Index), which measures vitamin, mineral and phytonutrient content in relation to caloric content.

One cup of broccoli has as much vitamin C as an orange and provides over 100% of our daily requirement for vitamins C and K.  It is also a good source of fiber, vitamin A, folate and potassium.

The sulforaphane in broccoli has many health benefits. It can lower blood sugar and help prevent type 2 diabetes and obesity.  Sulforaphane also has cancer fighting properties.  It can improve brain health and help prevent mental illness like schizophrenia.

Studies show that calcium and sulforaphane in broccoli can preserve cartilage between joints and can slow osteoarthritis as well as build strong bones.

The carotenoids in broccoli can lower the chances of getting heart disease and boost the immune system.

The vitamin K in broccoli helps blood to coagulate which helps wounds heal and may help prevent or treat osteoporosis. (This should be taken into consideration for those on blood thinner medication because it might counter the effects.).

The fiber in broccoli can act as an anti-inflammatory and may prevent colorectal cancer.

The potassium in broccoli can help relax the blood vessels and lower risk of high blood pressure and stroke (AHA)

The glucosinolates and vitamin C in broccoli are powerful antioxidants that can help prevent oxidative cell damage and aging. They also help reduce cancer risk in many tissues including lung, bladder, and prostate. They can also help prevent cardiovascular disease, cataracts, and anemia.

All parts of the broccoli plant are packed with nutrition including the leaves, stems and florets. Seeds and florets have nearly 3 times the healthful glucosinolates and about twice as many polyphenols compared to the stems. There is also a high concentration of vitamins and minerals in broccoli microgreens.

Where is Broccoli Grown


Historically, broccoli originated in the Mediterranean region where it has been cultivated since Roman times. It was introduced to California in 1923 only becoming a significant commercial crop until after World War II.

China and India produce more than 75% of the world’s broccoli with China accounting for more than 50%.

European countries such as  Italy, France, Spain, and Poland usually produce broccoli on small plots due to limited land.

Egypt, Pakistan, Turkey, and Algeria may each produce about 100 thousand tons of broccoli annually.

Australia, Jordan, Ecuador, Greece and Guatemala only manage to produce between 60-80 thousand tons of cauliflower and broccoli annually.

Mexico produces about 289 thousand tons of broccoli annually.


The United States produces about 481 thousand tons of broccoli with 92% grown in California.  In recent years, the northeastern states have begun growing broccoli and cultivated about 500 acres in 2017. 95% of the broccoli produced is sold fresh on the domestic market, while 15-20% is exported.

FUN FACT: Broccoli production in the United States can be traced to the D’Arrigo brothers, Stephano and Andrea, immigrants from Messina, Italy, whose company made some tentative plantings in San Jose, California in 1922.

In Season

Broccoli is a cool weather crop. It is usually planted in early spring or mid- to late summer and harvested in fall and winter.

Broccoli is planted year-round in California with the major harvest from mid-October through December.

Economic Impact


China broccoli production has grown nearly 20% from 2014-2019 to an annual output of ten million tons at last measurement.multi-billion-dollar trade.


Broccoli is a billion dollar in the United States responsible for thousands of jobs.  Approximately 129,400 acres of broccoli was harvested in 2017 with an estimated gross value $6,800 per acre for fresh market broccoli. The average broccoli yield in 2017 was 157.6 cwt (7.9 tons) per acre, down 10 percent from 2015.

.The costs of production of broccoli vary depending on the production location. Because it is harvested by hand, 68% of the cost of production and processing is due to labor, especially for harvest and post-harvest handling and packaging.

A recent study found broccoli to be economically viable on the east coast and that it would have no negative effect on the prices consumers pay. There is a project underway that plans to triple east coast production to farm gate value of $100 million per year, by making eastern broccoli more profitable for seed companies, growers and distributors.

US Consumption

Consumption of fresh broccoli increased from 1.4 pounds to 7.1 pounds  from 1980 to 2017.

It is the 6th most popular vegetable in the country, based on the percentage of primary shoppers buying in the previous 12 months. Consumption of frozen broccoli increased from 1.5 pounds to 2.6 pounds within the same period.

Environmental Impact

Broccoli production is relatively sustainable without major damage to air, water, land, or soil and does not require deforestation or slash and burn agriculture. Pollution is minimized if sustainable agriculture practices are used without pesticides.


Cool-season crops like broccoli are not drought-resistant. Water use can be minimized by using drip irrigation and mulching.


Broccoli contains natural pesticides that protect from pests and other potentially harmful organisms reducing the need for fertilizer.


Broccoli also produces the carbon emission equivalent of less than 1 mile driven per 4 ounces consumed.

Regenerative Agriculture

A study conducted by the USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education Service tested a total of 7 on-farm no-till farming trials in Virginia and North Carolina that found the establishment of high-biomass cover crops on permanent raised beds, farmscaping, and no-till sidedressing were an effective combination for producing organic broccoli 2004-5

Broccoli Microgreens

A study showed that broccoli microgreen production has a significantly smaller environmental impact than mature broccoli and most other vegetables. Microgreens require a fraction of the land and can be produced in urban areas close to where they are sold. The study found that broccoli microgreens would require 158–236 times less water than it does to grow a nutritionally equivalent amount of mature vegetables in the fields of California’s Central Valley. Microgreens take 93–95% less time to grow and do not need fertilizer, pesticides, or the energy-demanding transportation.


Social Impact

Broccoli is harvested by hand, requiring  large numbers of farm workers to harvest, pack and process.  This provides employment and income for thousands of workers as well as tax revenue. It also opens the possibility of abuse depending on employers, regulation, and oversight.

Broccoli and broccoli microgreens is a sustainable and relatively inexpensive crop that is fairly easy to grow with the potential to provide the nutrition needed to combat malnutrition and related illness which is a problem that impacts over two-thirds of the world population in rich and poor countries.  Broccoli is another crop that can help communities and subsistence farming to build food security and food equity.

Food Safety

Broccoli appears on the Environmental Working Group’s 2019 list of 15 “clean” vegetables. This means that the risk of contamination is low.




The American Heart Association

Where is broccoli grown?


Economic Impact

Environmental Impact

Social Impact

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