Watercress to make its NYC Debut!

 

Despite the fact that watercress has been grown in the USA since the 1870s it’s never grabbed the American taste buds quite as it did the Brits’.  But this could all be about to change in a new collaboration between The Watercress Company and packaging experts, Solata Foods which is already attracting a lot of press attention.

Using watercress as the key ingredient, we and Solata Foods have together launched a range of pre-packaged salads initially targeting the citizens of New York.  They can choose from:

  •  Nutri-mix - watercress with super greens such as beet tops, chards, and spinach

  • Britaly - a play on bringing Italian tricolor salad (Frisee, Radicchio and arugula) and swapping the arugula for British-grown watercress

  • Vita-mix - a combination of watercress, arugula, spinach and frisee

  • Hot and Sweet - a blend of baby sweet lettuces and the spiciness of watercress

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Tom Amery, Managing Director of The Watercress Company and based in the UK said: “We’re finally giving watercress the star treatment it deserves.  Launching our watercress with Solata Foods is a fantastic opportunity to introduce the unique peppery taste to a whole new audience.  We know from experience in the UK that once someone has tried it, they’re hooked and will keep coming back for more; we expect the same response from our American consumers – they just need the chance to try it and now they have it.”

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Solata’s CEO Roger Zlotoff agreed: “The US market is overdue to upgrade watercress beyond its current status.  In the UK, watercress has been a major staple for the last 125 years.  The reason is simple – watercress is one of the most amazing foods on the planet.”

And it’s true, watercress is amazing! 

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It contains over 50 vital vitamins and minerals and ounce for ounce contains more calcium than milk, more Vitamin C than an orange, more folate than bananas and more Vitamin E than broccoli. It’s also rich in iron, fibre and Vitamin A.  No wonder then that for thousands of years, anecdotal evidence from the ancient Greeks, to the Romans, Medieval monks and the Victorians suggested that watercress, uniquely grown in flowing spring water, possessed remarkable health benefits. 

It was only in recent years that genuine scientific proof was found to corroborate these suspicions including evidence that watercress can protect against cancer.

In 1995 researchers from the University of Minnesota documented watercress as one of nature’s richest sources of the compound PEITC (phenylethyl isothiocyanate), which helps fight cancer. University of Minnesota lab studies showed PEITC helped neutralize certain carcinogens and helped subjects resist cancers developing.

Over the next dozen years, a series of follow-up studies in prestigious science journals in both the U.S. and the UK indicated that eating watercress:

  • Reduces cellular DNA damage (which can lead to cancer) by nearly 25%

  • Limits the ability of cancer cells to metastasize (spread)

  • Blocks certain bio conditions needed for breast cancer tumors to grow

  • Reduces skin damage

  • Makes breast cancer cells more vulnerable to radiotherapy and protects healthy cells from radiation treatment

  • Increase the Elasticity in the blood vessels helping reduce blood pressure

  • Improves blood flow and enhances athletic performance

  • Virtually eliminates damage otherwise caused by free radicals during highly intensive exercise

  • Can even reduce facial wrinkles up to 49%

Additional studies have indicated that eating watercress helps lower glucose levels and increase insulin sensitivity in diabetic patients, improves thyroid gland function, boosts cardio health and bone health, reduces the risk of depression, helps prevent stroke, aids in fetal development and pregnancy, helps prevent cognitive disorders, improves eyesight and brain health, and even helps avoid catching the common cold.

#1 in nutrient density

As if more proof were needed, this superfood received another stunning scientific endorsement in 2014 from researchers working with the National Institutes of Health who released a study in the prestigious journal Preventing Chronic Disease, a publication of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

The ground-breaking research announced that watercress is the only food to score a perfect 100 on the world’s first-ever list of fruits and veg ranked by “nutrient density.”   Watercress came in at #1 on the list, making it the most nutritious, health-packed vegetable or fruit available in the entire world.

Also-rans included #2: Chinese cabbage at 91.99 on the scale; #3: chard (89.27); #4: beet greens (87.08), and #5: spinach (86.43), among dozens of others. Kale was far down the list at #15, scoring just 49.07 out of 100.

“Watercress is Number One in Mother Nature’s medicine cabinet,” said Solata’s COO Varick Warren. “Our packaging will emphasize style, marketing and convenience to help make it clear that watercress is not just good for you but it’s also good and tasty to eat.”

Solata’s CEO Zlotoff affirmed: “In these times when health is on everyone’s mind, we believe our bold new marketing approach is the best way to bring the world-beating benefits of watercress to more U.S. retailers and families.”

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One family we’re expecting a bulk order for watercress from is the First Family who have demonstrated a certain penchant for it. President Donald Trump seemed to have a taste for it on a trip to Ireland in 2018 where he appeared to wear some watercress in his pocket. On closer inspection it was in fact Irish shamrock but he and the First Lady did show a genuine liking for the Green Stuff when having been served halibut with a watercress mousse at Buckingham Palace on this summer’s State Visit, they reciprocated with a watercress puree with beef served to Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall. Surely we’ll at least see watercress become a regular item on the menu at Trump Towers if not the White House? Tom is, as ever, optimistic!

Come and see us at the New York Produce Show

The Watercress Company will be growing the watercress as usual in specially built beds flowing with naturally mineral rich spring water from which the plant absorbs much of its goodness.  However, we are also using specially selected heritage seed varieties which allow us to harvest six weeks after sowing and to bring some second cuttings to the market. The result is a more tender, succulent and palatable variety of watercress, which is only available from our team.

For anyone who wants to find out more about watercress and these exciting new salad mixes, Solata Foods and The Watercress Company will be at the New York Produce Show in December.  Come to Booth #110 and we’ll give you something to get your teeth into!



 
Sophie Peel