“There are two types of people; those who eat kale and those who should.”
Bo Muller-Moore, to whom this quote is attributed, is a nutritional prophet and a kale entrepreneur. While it is unclear whether he grows the green stuff himself, his “Eat More Kale” T-shirts are a must-have gift for the kale lover in your life.
Eat your greens is good advice for your health and for Island farmers. The word on the street is that there is a kale glut on Martha’s Vineyard. Do your part and consume more of this magic vegetable. Follow the lead of nutritionist and cancer survivor Diana Dyer, who maintains a blog called 365 Days of Kale.
My kale obsession came late in life. For most of my life, I believed kale to be just a garnish. You know, the curly green bottom layer providing color to the tray of cold cuts or appetizers. How wrong I was!
Kale is king. It is a superfood, far more than just an embellishment. One cup of kale has only 36 calories, but packs a wallop. That single cup provides 15 per cent of your recommended daily calcium and vitamin B6, 40 per cent of your magnesium, 180 per cent of vitamin A, 200 per cent of vitamin C and 1,020 per cent of vitamin K. It is also high in antioxidants, is an anti-inflammatory and is reputed to be an anti-cancer agent and to lower cholesterol. No wonder it has been called “the healthiest vegetable on the planet.”
As a member of the Brassica family of vegetables, kale is related to broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and collards. It is eaten and celebrated all over the world.
In the German towns of Bremen, Oldenburg and Hannover, social clubs are formed annually to go on “kale tours.” These outings occur from October through February, when club members travel to inns to consume large amounts of boiled kale and play bosseln, a type of ball game. Other communities offer kale festivals, where a king or queen kale is crowned.
Many cultures have their own local dishes made with kale. In East Africa, there’s a stew called ugali. Langkal is a specialty in Denmark, Holland and Sweden, and caldo verde is a soup from Portugal. Colcannon is the Irish specialty, of course made with potatoes, and in the Netherlands, boerenkool. Clearly, there is no lack of recipes or creativity when it comes to preparing kale.
Kale is not a Johnny-come-lately or trendy vegetable in vogue. Greeks and Romans grew kale. It was either they or the Celts that likely brought what they called “coles” to Britain and France. Its consumption spread throughout Europe and was eventually brought to North America in 1669. During World War II, kale’s cultivation was encouraged in Britain to supplement the poor diet caused by war rationing.
The cold weather is not a threat to kale. In fact, these luscious leaves become even sweeter and more flavorful after a frost. It can grow late into the winter and was historically known to fill the “hunger gap” when few other foodstuffs were available.
Now that you know, you would be hard-pressed to find a finer food than kale. Consume it with gusto this season and tell everyone you know to eat some too. Perhaps even Popeye could be convinced to reconsider his green obsession and come over to the kale side.
Suzan Bellincampi is director of the Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary in Edgartown.