Turnip king has grown 70 million veg

THINK of a turnip and your mind inevitably brings back that image of former England manager Graham Taylor when he was described as a turnip for failing to qualify for the 1994 World Cup.

Richard Smith

THINK of a turnip and your mind inevitably brings back that image of former England manager Graham Taylor when he was described as a turnip for failing to qualify for the 1994 World Cup.

But for one Suffolk farmer the trusty vegetable has earned him the true title of turnip king.

Richard Parry has grown an incredible 70 million of the vegetable to keep up with soaring demand from his 370 acres near Woodbridge.


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Supermarket giants Tesco report a staggering 75% rise in turnip sales over the last 12 months as shoppers save money on their food bills and traditional veg such as parsnip, swede and turnip make a come-back.

Mr Parry, 30, farm manager with A W Mortier (farms) Ltd at Cedar Farm, Hollesley Road, Alderton, near Woodbridge, said: ''The turnip is becoming more sexy than it used to be and we supply about 90% of the UK supermarkets during the 10-month growing season.

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''I am probably fairly representative of the general population in that I eat turnip a few times, not a tremendous amount.

''I eat it raw in a salad or you can fry it in garlic and oil and enjoy the crunchy, peppery taste.''

He added: ''Thanks to renewed interest from celebrity chefs and the credit crunch a lot more people are buying root vegetables - they are fresh, good for you and versatile to cook.

''We get them to the supermarket shelves in just over 48 hours but in a fridge a turnip will last for two weeks.''

The light, sandy soil near Woodbridge and the relatively mild winter temperatures are good growing conditions for turnips.

A spokesman for Tesco's said: "We have seen an extraordinary rise in turnip sales which we put down to a return to traditional vegetables that are comparatively cheap, versatile and healthy."

Turnips were first grown in Europe more than 2,000 years ago and were prized by the Romans. They pre-date the potato but were used mainly as fodder for cattle as recently as the 19th century

The humble turnip is also receiving help in making a comeback from celebrity chefs including Jamie Oliver, Gary Rhodes, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Delia Smith.

The vegetable's versatility - it can be roasted, pickled, baked and grated in healthy salads - means it is a good all-rounder.

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