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Most divisive Christmas vegetable? Here’s the ‘tough’ process Brussels sprouts go through

A Brussels sprout is the most divisive of all Christmas vegetable varieties.

They are everywhere, I can see from this vantage point of a Dutch factory.

It’s like Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory but in sprout form.

They are rolled along conveyor belts and poured into large machinery before falling into chutes.


They are photographed, lifted, sorted and packed, and then chilled.

It’s like watching green magma flow. The slow march continues as more sprouts are brought from farms.

This is the perfect place to see sprouts if you love them (spoiler alert: I do).

All sizes of sprouts are buzzing about us. They’re being divided into large, wheeled tubs which fill in quickly. The Dutch love the smaller ones. The largest are to be found in Germany.

The containers for the British are located in the middle. We prefer smaller Brussels sprouts that have a crisp flavor.

I am describing the fine sprouts.

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The global centre for sprout-growing

Peter van’t Woudt, the site manager at Primeale in the Netherlands – the global centre for sprout-growing – is responsible for managing the site.

He watches the sprouts grow and then he runs his hand through the empty vat to check for any problems.

It is an important time of year for the Brussels sprout world.

He said, looking around his factory, “We run for 24 hours per days.”

“This is the season when everyone has to work hard, because everyone wants the sprouts. We are a team.

It can take the sprouts from the factory to reach the shelves at a British supermarket in just 34 hours.

According to estimates, British shoppers will buy 750 million sprouts during Christmas. However, only half of these sprouts will be consumed.

It’s the vegetable you either love or loathe. Yes, even in the sprout factory, I met people who loved them, despite spending all day staring at sprouts. Others couldn’t bear to eat the taste.

How can you harvest a sprout in winter?

Jack’s Gravemade is another option, who uses infrared cameras for weeding out bad sprouts.

He stated that he used hate them as children, but now he is a committed fan.

He said that it has been a difficult year for them due to the hot summer which affected sprouts.

Last year, about 8% of sprouts was deemed unacceptable. Now it’s more than twice that.

It’s hard for farmers. We are half an hour away and we are standing in a field of mud talking to Frederique Sonneveld. She is the Primeale product manager responsible for overseeing Brussels sprouts.

Her parents were also farmers, so she worked with sprouts.

These things are all she knows, which is great because I don’t really know much about them.

Sprouts are able to grow from the ground. They can be found on all sides of a thick stalk.

A slow-moving vehicle moves along the line of vegetables to harvest them. Four people are seated in the front.

The stalk is cut at ground level by huge cutters. It then gets lifted up by hand and fed into an opening where a hidden machine removes the sprouts.

Problem is, you can’t do this if it is freezing. The weather is currently cold. Ms Sonneveld is concerned.

“It’s an important time of year and I’m anxious, but it’s impossible to do much if it’s too cold,” she says. We must harvest as much as possible, but …”, she shrugs her shoulders and smiles with an anxious smile.

They need our love and care.

Image of Brussels sprouts harvested in the Netherlands

“I think about sprouts every single day”

You can’t control the natural forces of nature.

She explained that the summer was not easy, but it wasn’t the only problem.

Due to the spiralling energy prices, farming has become more costly. Inflation in the labour market has also increased. It is a costly business to sprout sprouts.

Ms Sonneveld is an avid fan of the taste and texture of sprouts, but she looks confused when I ask her if she eats them every single day.

Image Frederique Sonveld is an avid fan of the taste and aroma of the sprout

She replied, “I think about them everyday, but I don’t always eat their food.” It is probably very wise.

She presented me with the most beautiful example that she could find: perfect size, no flaky leaves, and a sparkling sheen.

She handed it back, saying, “Bling, glamour.” It’s not, if I’m being honest, an expression that I’ve ever used to describe a Brussels sprout.

It is, however, a beautiful looking sprout. It’s the one that I am holding in our television news report. I’ll be eating it shortly.

Image The perfect Brussels sprout

It is a time-consuming task to bring a sprout to your table. They are loved and cherished, then encouraged to grow and brought to your table.

All this for something half of you will never want. Being a Brussels sprout is a difficult life.


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