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Obama’s 'Favorite Food' Quip Rekindles Broccoli Debate

Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- When asked what his favorite food is at the second annual Kids’ State Dinner, the president replied, “broccoli.” The Twitterverse immediately boiled over with opinions about this cruciferous confession.

“What kind of POTUS says his fav food is Broccoli? Same one who in 2008 complained about the price of arugula at Whole Foods,” tweeted CNN commentator and former Bush press aide, Ari Fleischer.

“All GOP 2016ers will now have to pledge to never eat broccoli again,” David Plouffe, President Obama’s former campaign manager and senior adviser, tweeted. “Maybe a new angle for Grover [Norquist].”

Broccoli has long been a political vegetable. In 1990, George H.W. Bush, a Republican, banned the veggie from the presidential plate, declaring, “I do not like broccoli, and I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I’m president of the United States, and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli!”

Another noted conservative, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, wondered, during a court discussion about the individual mandate provision of the Affordable Care Act, what would stop Washington bureaucrats from forcing citizens to buy the vegetable.

“Could you define the market --  everybody has to buy food sooner or later, so you define the market as food, therefore, everybody is in the market; therefore, you can make people buy broccoli,” Scalia asked Obama administration lawyers.

But broccoli’s constituency doesn’t fall entirely along party lines. Preference (or hatred) for the veggie appears to have a genetic component.

A recent study in the journal Current Biology explained that broccoli contains compounds called glucosinolates, which are also found in other cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. Thanks to a gene known as hTAS2R38, some people’s taste buds detect these chemicals as unbearably bitter, while others can’t taste them at all. If you’ve got a particular variant of this gene, no amount of cheese sauce will prevent you from gagging on the stalky green.

Whether you like the taste or not, most people concede broccoli is considered a super food by nutrition experts. One cup of chopped, steamed broccoli contains just 51 calories, a single gram of fat and 5 grams of fiber, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture database. It provides 137 percent of your daily vitamin C requirement, plus a healthy dose of vitamin A, calcium, iron and protein.

In 2012, the USDA’s Economic Research Service reported that consumption of broccoli has tripled over the past three decades, from 1.4 pounds in 1980 to 5.6 pounds in 2010.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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