AOC says growing cauliflower is 'colonial' as she insists community gardens central to her Green New Deal should be used to grow 'culturally significant' plants like yucca

  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took to Instagram live to discuss her Green New Deal
  • The 29-year-old claimed people of color ought to be able to grow familiar foods
  • She said they were alienated by not being able to grow their native vegetables
  • AOC said: 'You're taking a colonial approach to environmentalism'
  • Critics blasted her as a 'loony' who was so sensitive she could become offended by a vegetable
  • They also pointed out that the Yucca, the plant she said was 'culturally significant' would struggle to grow in New York's colder climate 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has claimed that growing cauliflower in community gardens is 'taking a colonial approach to environmentalism.'

The firebrand New York Democrat took to Instagram to discuss how such gardens were a 'core component' of her proposed Green New Deal on Tuesday.

She discussed in the live broadcast how it was important that people of color felt they were able to grow foods familiar to them in these green spaces.

The 29-year-old said: 'What I love too is growing plants that are culturally familiar to the community. It's so important.'

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 29, walked around her native New York as she discusses how community gardens were central to her Green New Deal
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez live streaming on Instagram

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 29, walked around her native New York as she discusses how community gardens were central to her Green New Deal

She added: 'A core component of the Green New Deal is having all of these projects make sense in a cultural context, and it's an area that we get the most pushback on because people say, "Why do you need to do that? That's too hard." 

'But when you really think about it, when someone says that it's "too hard" to do a green space that grows Yucca instead of, I don't know, cauliflower or something - what you're doing is you're taking a colonial approach to environmentalism.

'And that is why a lot of communities of color get resistant to certain environmentalist movements because they come with the colonial lens on them.' 

AOC claimed that by telling different communities that it was 'too hard' to create a space where they could grow their native vegetables, when someone said this they were 'taking a colonial approach to environmentalism'
AOC walked through her native New York during the broacast

AOC claimed that by telling different communities that it was 'too hard' to create a space where they could grow their native vegetables, when someone said this they were 'taking a colonial approach to environmentalism'

Her comments have since stoked confusion and ridicule. 

But we eat potatoes in Latin America, and cauliflower' 
Baffled Twitter user  

Critics blasted her as a 'loony' and some expressed confusion, citing the fact that cauliflowers are popular in south America. 

'But we eat potatoes in Latin America.. and cauliflower?' one Twitter user said. 

It's unclear who the politician thinks the vegetable offends. 

Flats Fix, the Mexican restaurant  where she worked until launching her political career, serves cauliflower tacos for $4.75. 

She orders the pastrami taco on their menu when she goes.   

IS 'VEGETABLE COLONIALISM' A REAL THING?  

Cauliflower's origins are in Europe where the highest number of variations of B. oleracea, the wild plant that produces broccoli, kale and cabbage too, grows. 

It became popular in the US in the 17th Century when Europeans first arrived and started growing it. 

Now, in the US, it is most commonly grown in California, New York and Arizona which produce 90 percent of the country's supply. 

Its heritage has never before been the source of contentious discussions on colonialism and AOC's comments stunned Twitter users. 

Cauliflower is a variety of Brassica oleracea which originates in Europe

Cauliflower is a variety of Brassica oleracea which originates in Europe 

It is not native to American soil like Yucca which is more common in the hot, dry land of parts of North and South America and parts of the Caribbean, but it is a staple of many diets around the world.  

AOC singled it out after touting her Swiss chard, spinach and collard greens - none of which are native to the US either. 

Spinach is believed to have first grown in Persia and been introduced to Europe in the 15th Century.

'The greens' in collard greens come from the same plant as cauliflower, broccoli and kale - the Brassica oleracea - which thrives in cool climates and originated in Europe.  

Swiss Chard is native to southern Europe, north Africa and parts of the Middle East where it, along with other plants in the Flavescens-Group, grow along the coast. 

Twitter users were taken aback by the politician's take on the subject

Twitter users were taken aback by the politician's take on the subject

The Yucca plant, which she said she wanted to add, would not be able to thrive in New York because it does better in warmer climates, some Twitter users claimed. 

'Culturally significant' plants have become a source of interest, however, in a Native American context. 

In 2010, the Natural Resources Conservation Service Plant Materials Program released a list of hundreds of plants which were used in by Native American tribes either as food, medicine or other ways. 

But the notion of vegetable colonialism is not one that has been explored publicly before.  

AOC boasted about growing Swiss Chard, spinach and collard greens - all of which originate in Europe

AOC boasted about growing Swiss Chard, spinach and collard greens - all of which originate in Europe 

AOC was at a community garden to show her followers the work people were doing and had high praise for a composting area
AOC gestures to compost in the garden

AOC was at a community garden to show her followers the work people were doing and had high praise for a composting area

The Bronx native has become a central and bold voice in the climate change cause, unafraid of suggesting Presidential favorite Joe Biden took a 'middle of the road' approach to the issue. 

While she never mentioned him by name, Ocasio-Cortez retweeted a linked to a Reuters article reporting Biden 'is crafting a climate change policy he hopes will appeal to both environmentalists and the blue-collar voters who elected [Trump].'

She slammed the idea with her own added commentary: 'This is a dealbreaker. There is no 'middle ground' w/ climate denial & delay.

'Blaming "blue collar" Americans as the main opponents to bold climate policy is gas lobbyist 101. We're not going to solve the climate crisis w/ this lack of leadership. Our kids' lives are at stake.'

In March Democratic Senators failed to vote through her Green New Deal to the voting stage, claiming it had been brought forward by the Republican Senate Majority Leader for political ends.

Last week Ocasio-Cortez tweeted that the 'GOP doesn’t care about babies at all - especially brown, black, or poor ones,' claiming that if they did they would back her Green New Deal, 'or at LEAST have a real climate plan.' 

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AOC says growing cauliflower is 'colonial' as she addresses racial divisions of community gardens

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