Watercress is best 

In Information, watercress by Sue Marshall

Growing in British streams and now widely available in supermarkets, watercress is the focus of one man’s dreams.  

Steve Rothwell began his PhD in the nutritional physiology of the peppery green leaf in 1980 after deciding that studying the genetics of sphagnum moss wasn’t for him. The course was part-funded by the watercress industry and it wasn’t long before he met the owner of Hampshire Watercress (later renamed Vitacress), Malcolm Isaac. After completing his PhD, Rothwell took a job with them on a two-year contract, but thirty years later, he’s still there. 

For centuries the nutritional power-house that is watercress has been recognized, long before blueberries, cranberries and broccoli stole the show.  This year, even though the rain has been unwelcome by most of us, watercress has been lapping up the damp weather on the Steve’s Leaves’ farm in Hampshire.  

Steve’s Leaves are picked earlier than normal, so the leaves are peppery and the stalks are tender not tough, so the whole little sprig can be eaten without waste. Steve and his team have developed a revolutionary chiller that rapidly cools the leaves within 60 minutes of them being harvested, keeping them deliciously fresh and tasty.   

A true superfood, with years of research to back up its claims, watercress is a good source of vitamins A and C, antioxidants, iron, calcium, folic acid and phytochemicals, which in turn are essential for shiny hair, strong bones, clear skin, and a healthy immune system.   

“Stuffing watercress between two slices of buttered bread is the simplest way of adding an impressive list of vitamins and minerals to your lunch box,” explained Dr Steve Rothwell (the Steve in Steve’s Leaves).  “Adding a handful of leaves to a salad is another boost and a bowl of watercress soup is much more satisfying than a vitamin tablet. It’s no surprise that watercress is one of the oldest known leaf vegetables to be consumed by humans, so our forebears certainly knew what was naturally good for them to eat.”  

The Steve’s Leaves range is available from selected Waitrose, online at Ocado and all good foodie outlets. www.stevesleaves.co.uk 

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