IT'S always alarming to hear that yet another British product is under threat.

This time, it's the cauliflower, which happens to be one of my favourite vegetables. It seems that this is another case of "use it or lose it".

Apparently, cauliflower has become unfashionable and British farmers are being paid less and less for this lovely winter vegetable. They say that if this doesn't change, it won't be worth producing cauliflowers - which would be disastrous as no country in the world produces finer cauliflower than we do: it requires a cool, moist climate to flourish.

Many people turn away from cauliflowers as they have never experienced the joys of fresh cauliflower cooked until just tender, but not soft. Too many people boil it to death, reducing the creamy flowerhead to a pulp. When over-cooked, it loses its fresh taste and firm texture.

I am pleading for everyone to look again at the cauliflower and be ready to pay a fair price. After all, you can get at least six portions from a large cauliflower and four generous portions from a small one.

Cauliflower is low in fat, but high in dietary fibre, folate and vitamin C. It also contains several phytochemicals beneficial to human health, including sulforaphane, an anti-cancer compound released when the cauliflower is chopped or chewed When shopping for cauliflowers, look for heads that are firm and not quite fully developed, that come with clean white stalks. Avoid buying blown woolly heads, speckled with patches of brown. Cauliflowers with limp outer leaves should be avoided too When cooking cauliflower, remove it from the heat once the florets are tender, but not soft. It spoils if overcooked Try frying the cauliflower florets in a little olive oil, turning often until they begin to brown. Extra flavour can be added by sprinkling a little curry powder on the florets when they are almost done. They taste good when a little chopped garlic, coriander and parsley is added too Cauliflower soup should be made by boiling two-thirds cauliflower and one-third chopped King Edward potatoes together until soft, adding stock or water to the mix before zapping it in the liquidiser to form a thick purée. Extra flavour can be obtained by adding chopped parsley and vegetable bouillon powder Try adding extras to your classic cauliflower cheese. Decorating it with grilled crispy bacon and tomatoes is a great idea, and frozen peas can be scattered into the dish before coating the cooked cauliflower in cheese sauce.