November 9, 2020

‘Replace sweets with sprouts’ on Dutch Halloween-like holiday

Filed under: Food & Drink,Weird by Orangemaster @ 11:31 am

It is not real news, but we still really like the story.

On November 11 Dutch children usually celebrate Sint-Maarten by going around town door to door at night, carrying hand-made lanterns and singing songs for sweets.

The city of Amsterdam would rather this not happen at all due to the health crisis and has made a suggestion that sounds more like an April Fool’s joke: replace the sweets with Brussels sprouts to promote healthy eating.

The idea is to stay home and celebrate with the healthy yet questionable-smelling miniature cabbages. The city is bold enough to suggest parents also use ‘tomatoes, carrot and radishes’ as well.

Maybe spend a evening doing something fun with your kids that doesn’t involve you checking your mobile phone, but that’s just me.

Good news is I won’t have to hide in my own house on 11 November. A Canadian like me considers 11 November as Remembrance Day, the day we commemorate the millions of fallen during the First World War, which the Dutch don’t celebrate.

I posted a picture of Dutch white asparagus because it’s really tasty.

(Link:, Photo by Wikipedia user Janericloebe who released it into the public domain)

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July 22, 2019

Black background enhances fresh produce

Filed under: Food & Drink by Orangemaster @ 2:17 pm
Purple tomato

A joint study between Brigham Young University in Utah, the United States and the Delft University of Technology claimed to have found a way to get people to buy more fresh produce. Conducted by American professor Bryan Howell and Dutch professor Hendrick Schifferstein, the study looks at how the backgrounds of grocery store displays impact the attractiveness of vegetables, and a black background is apparently the best.

Howell said that in the design world, black has always been the cool colour, but didn’t know it would carry over into the vegetable world. Both researchers asked 46 participants to assess five vegetables on various shades of backgrounds between black and white. The study participants gave attractiveness and perceived expensiveness ratings for the mushroom, bell pepper, carrot, tomato, and eggplant against each background. These are all commonly sold vegetables in the United States and the Netherlands.

“Yellow peppers were rated as the most attractive and expensive across all the white, grey and black backgrounds, while carrots generally rated the least attractive and expensive. However, carrots got the biggest boost in ratings when paired with a black background, even jumping eggplants and mushrooms in attractiveness.”

Locally, my only concern is the ridiculous amount of plastic packaging on vegetables in some Dutch supermarkets. An entire plastic tray for two avocados with plastic around as well is too much plastic for me and I wish we’d worry about that.

(Link:, Photo:

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January 13, 2018

‘Dutch produce tons of food, but it’s bland’

Filed under: Food & Drink,Sustainability by Orangemaster @ 9:42 pm

Saying that this small country can feed the world sounds very impressive, but when the crops are only for profit, you wonder what you’re buying. Subjectively, most people who live in the Netherlands and who are either not of Dutch origin or have lived abroad wonder very often on social media and at parties why Dutch-grown tomatoes and cucumbers taste like water. Google ‘Wasserbombe’ and find out what Germans think of these red-coloured ‘water bombs’.

“A country [like the Netherlands] can become an agricultural powerhouse without having a rich food culture, but the focus on price, efficiency, and practicality has undermined how the Dutch both consume and produce their food”, says Pinar Coskun of Erasmus University of Rotterdam, also echoed by Leo Marcelis, Professor of horticulture at Wageningen University, according to Yes Magazine.

In September 2016, National Geographic sung the praises of Dutch agriculture, with no discussion at all on taste, purely on output, saying that “more than half the nation’s land area is used for agriculture and horticulture.” Sure, if it’s just about feeding people like in a sci-fi series, sure. But if you want some sort of quality, that’s the not the point. To be fair, that’s possibly the case in many countries around the world.

There was also the onion-shallot war between the Netherlands and France. The Netherlands produce cheap shallots by replanting shallot bulbs and harvesting mechanically, while the French plant seeds and harvest manually. The Dutch shallots are cheaper, that’s for sure.

(Link:, Photo by FotoosVanRobin, some rights reserved)

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October 28, 2015

Spacious underground fridge shelter for your food

Filed under: Design,Food & Drink by Orangemaster @ 11:25 am


Dutch fridges are often small, with four shelves and a freezer section big enough to store ice cubes and a frozen pizza. The same goes for having an actual oven, bath and separate clothes dryer: it’s not the norm.

For folks rich enough to own land that you can dig into and hip enough to grow their own fruit and vegetables, there’s the Groundfridge designed by Floris Schoonderbeek. It looks like the coolest bomb shelter ever, and uses the ground temperature for isolation insulation, keeping your community backyard garden food fresh at 10-12 degrees Celsius without electricity.

According to Schoonderbeek, winemakers have shown interest in having a Groundfridge, as well as people who build hurricane shelters and probably any big cheese fan. Check out the Dutch video with English subtitles, although they are too small for me, a bit like my fridge, although I do have an oven.

(Link and photo:

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May 12, 2012

Portrait of a red cabbage

Filed under: Art,Food & Drink by Branko Collin @ 12:02 pm

Margaretha de Heer painted this red cabbage sometime during the seventeenth century (she lived from 1600 – 1665 in Groningen and Leeuwarden).

The painting fetched 61,000 euro at an auction at Christie’s in Amsterdam last Tuesday, three times the price that was originally expected. says the auction house had several explanations for the high price. For one, it is the only antique painting depicting a red cabbage. For another, it was painted by a woman, which seems to have been unusual in the age of guilds.

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October 9, 2011

Asparagus most popular vegetable among the Dutch, French beans second

Filed under: Food & Drink by Branko Collin @ 1:27 pm

Radio show Vroege Vogels (Early Birds) held a vegetable popularity contest during the Week of the Vegetarian restaurant which ran from October 3 through October 9.

Perhaps surprisingly the top four comprises, in the following order, the asparagus, the French bean, chicory and Brussels sprouts (asperge, sperzieboon, witlof and spruitje in Dutch).

In total more than 30,000 votes were cast for 62 vegetables, the show’s website reports. Asparagus and the French bean finished 42 votes apart, the former receiving 1873 votes. Traditionally asparagus is eaten white in the Netherlands. Since the plant starts turning green the moment it breaks through the surface, it is grown in long mounds and dug out as soon as it cracks the top of its bed.

See the Dutch vegetable top 40 of 2011.

(Photo by Wikipedia user Janericloebe who released it into the public domain)

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October 6, 2011

‘The Dutch still have poor eating habits’

Filed under: Food & Drink,Health by Orangemaster @ 1:58 pm

According to the NRC newspaper, the government’s public health institute has been evaluating the eating habits of 4,000 people between 2007 and 2010, and have concluded that people in the Netherlands still eat crap (noun and incorrect adverb).

“People of all ages are consuming 100 to 120 grams of vegetables a day, when it should be 200 grams. Just 10% of children and 33% of the elderly manage to eat fish twice a week.”

Fish is more expensive than red and white meat (assuming that’s the competition), so that’s one easy explanation. The ordinary supermarket has a lot of junk food fish (fried, drenched in cream, battered) and not much fresh fish.

As for the veggies, many foreigners (nutritionists and ordinary people) are literally freaked out by how few vegetables are recommended (see explanation with fruit below).

“Children eat less than one piece of fruit a week and adults not quite one and a half. The recommended amount is two pieces. And the consumption of fibres is about 66% of what it should be.”

The recommended amount of fruit in Canada is like 3-4 servings a day and even 5 in the US. Harvard goes as far as to recommend “5 to 13 servings” and “potatoes don’t count, as they are just starch”.

A quick tour around the web says that France recommends 400 g of fruit and veg a day, twice what the Dutch recommend. They also say that lesser developed countries recommend 100 g and fervent Western European countries up to 450 g.

“The good news is that people are eating fewer trans-fats, mainly because producers of margarines, cooking oils and snacks have lowered the amount of trans-fats in their products.”

In other words, they got lucky and don’t think about what they eat. That’s not good news, that’s a warning.


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December 26, 2009

Supermarket reports run on carrots

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 9:40 am

Supermarket chain Albert Heijn reported last week that the sales of carrots had gone up 25%, writes Z24.

The on-line business news publication speculates that the snow of last week may have had something to do with the increased demand: both snowmen and traditional winter dishes such as hutspot require carrots.

(Photo by Melinda Shelton, some rights reserved)

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September 8, 2008

Buying Dutch products is an illusion

Filed under: Food & Drink,General by Orangemaster @ 9:57 am
Douwe Egberts

One out of every three Dutch person prefers Dutch supermarket products over foreign ones. But can they really tell the difference? “Absolutely!”, 34% of respondents answered. Only 2% of respondents preferred foreign brand products in their shopping carts. The other 64% did not care where their products came from. So what’s up with the nationalism at the supermarket? Alexandra Blikman of the firm Deloitte explains (and debunks):

“In a previous survey about Dutch suppliers, many of them feel that there is a market for typical Dutch brand articles. We were surprised of that result and decided to check if that was in fact true. And it is.”

One question remains: what is a Dutch brand article? Douwe Egberts has been owned by the America’s Sara Lee for some 30 years. The typically Dutch Verkade biscuits and chocolate bars are owned by Britain’s United Biscuits, while Iglo was bought by Britain’s Permira. De Ruijter and Venz sprinkles are owned by America’s Heinz.

If you want to buy ‘Dutch goods’ you should buy Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, Dove soap and Sourcy water. At first glance, the first one is from the US originally, the second probably the same and the last one from Belgium. Or just eat vegetables from greenhouses and you’ll be as Dutch as it gets.

People have no clue what they are buying, but do like Dutch looking or sounding goods. If you slap a Dutch flag or some stratigically placed orange banner on your product you may sell more.

(Link:, photo:

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