The verdict is in, the sun is setting on the alleged cauliflower craze

Wilting dreams.
Wilting dreams.
Image: Reuters/Sean Yong
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It’s a repeat message from foodie prognosticators: This will be the year cauliflower reigns supreme. This will be the year the flower-budded cabbage varietal usurps popularity from kale and avocado to claim its moment. It’ll swim in soup, they said. It’ll be the new mashed potatoes, they said. Hell, it’ll even win hearts masquerading as steak (steak!).

Sadly, for cauliflower, this status remains elusive. Always the bridesmaid but never the bride, despite predictions that get rolled out year after year, over and over and over and over and over again.

It is time to give cauliflower a breather. Yes, it is delicious. Yes, it is versatile. No, it is not America’s next vegetable darling. Even midway through 2016, cauliflower was nowhere to be found in the top 20 list of the ‘most hashtagged’ foods on Instagram—that kingmaker of dinnertime célébrité.

After years of food blogger proselytizing about its every health benefit, the no-frills cauliflower is still fighting a basic gap in curiosity. People going to Google are still more interested in learning about its green compatriot, the broccoli.

Just keeping pace with spinach (who’s very name became synonymous with boring) has proven to be a difficult challenge.

And even though changing climate conditions have squeezed both cauliflower and broccoli production in the last several years, the overall retail price per pound has largely remained the same—a rough indicator that even when supply is volatile, demand isn’t driving the cost of cauliflower through the roof.

To be sure, not everyone was duped by the din of foodie tastemakers. The Washington Post in its annual “In and Out” list tossed the cauliflower dream aside back in 2014, saying it had been replaced by radishes. So to any holdouts, keep your fingers crossed. Or move on to something else. Maybe yams?