When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch
food / travel

Beyond The Baby Carrot, A Growing Demand For Mini Vegetables

One available type of cauliflower is the green cauliflower, called 'Romanesco.'
One available type of cauliflower is the green cauliflower, called "Romanesco."
Caroline Stevan

GENEVA — It's a sight that would have pleased Pantagruel, the 16th-century giant dreamed up by French writer François Rabelais. A horde of mini-vegetables, more numerous and diverse, are taking the world's kitchens by storm. For many years, we have grown accustomed to baby carrots and cucumbers, not to mention baby corn. But here come mini eggplants, peppers, avocados or even fennel.

Until now confined to the tables of chic restaurants, mini-vegetables are increasingly sneaking onto supermarket shelves.

The Swiss supermarket chain offers a wide range of products and services, such as, but not limited to, okras or asparagi, produced in Switzerland, Spain or overseas. The retail company does not release sales numbers but notes that most mini veggies are sold during the holidays. A few offerings, however, such as peppers or cucumbers, are now popular all-year-round.

Driving the trend is the demand from vegetarians and vegans looking for novelty. But consumers also note the practical side.

Driving the trend is the demand from vegetarians and vegans looking for novelty. But consumers also note the practical side.

"Vegetable snacks, such as carrots or cucumbers, are ideal for between two meals or for children. You can carry them around in a bag," notes Aurélie Deschenaux, a spokesperson for food distributor Migros. "Baby vegetables, like baskets of cauliflower or romanesco, are perfect for single people or small families because it allows you to cook different vegetables at the same time without having too many leftovers." It's also worth noting that they generally don't need to be sliced or peeled.

What about producers? Matthieu and Marco Cuendet, fourth-generation farmers in Bremblens, near Lausanne, have more than 200 types of vegetables to offer. Their father initiated this production three decades ago, working hand-in-hand with several top area chefs. Over the years, the family farm developed a clientele made mostly of "fine restaurants." But now, the number of private customers, who can purchase their products online, at the farm or in local markets, is also growing.

Matthieu Cuendet doesn't want to share his trade secrets. But according to specialized websites, there are three ways of obtaining baby vegetables. One can either harvest earlier (eggplants), or sow closer together. But there are also particular types of plants, either found in the nature or by cross-breeding.

Questions of nutritional value remain.

"Contrary to fruit that needs to ripen, mini vegetables already have everything," says Cuendet. "Its nutritional quality is therefore probably as good as that of the bigger ones, if not better because of the concentration."

But Muriel Lafaille Paclet, a nutritionist at the Lausanne University Hospital, cautions against such non-scientific declarations. "We cannot claim anything without further analysis, but to harvest a vegetable before it's fully grown, as well as tight sowing, can also have an impact on its nutritional quality because they will lack nutrients. This can lead to a lower amount of vitamins and minerals. Treatments, washing, light exposure and transport can further alter the product, not to mention the impact on the environment."

Still, Paclet does agree that anything that can increase the consumption of vegetables is good for overall nutrition. But remember that a recommended portion of vegetables is 120 to 150 grams. That's a lot of baby carrots.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

food / travel

Gùsto! How · What · Where Locals Eat (And Drink) In Hamburg

Sausages, potatoes and sauerkraut ... Ja, but not only! Let us take you on a culinary tour of Hamburg, where hip vegan cafes meet sushi and ramen bars, and Bavarian beer flows aplenty.

image of a rooftop bar with a view of the harbour

Skyline bar in Hamburg, Germany

Michelle Courtois

It’s the Northern German city where the Beatles got started, a vital trade hub for centuries — and a city where you can get a delicious curry wurst mit pommes. Willkommen to Hamburg.

German cuisine is usually thought of as sausages, potatoes and sauerkraut. And while those foods are popular and culturally significant, there is so much more to be found in Hamburg. The city's old brick buildings now house hip vegan cafes, sushi and ramen bars, beer houses, döner restaurants and more!

When going to Hamburg, be prepared to try cuisine that may be completely new to you. The city’s restaurant and bar culture is diverse and deeply multicultural, with restaurants mixing German culinary traditions with other European cuisines and tastes and techniques from the kitchens of Asia, South America, Africa and beyond.

Keep reading...Show less

The latest