A Different Drummer: Eat more kale
By Steve Gibbs
WHERE THE HALE IS ALL THE KALE? I went to Raley’s yesterday to get my juice ingredients and they were all out of organic curly kale. I was taking a leek next to the organic vegetables when the produce manager came by and spotted me. He asked if he could help. I said what I really needed was kale.
He said, “We can’t keep it in stock. Even our supplier is short on kale.”
Hmm, gee, I thought to myself. I hope that the kale shortage wasn’t partially my fault. I wrote about it a few weeks ago as the main ingredient in all my veggie-fruit juice concoctions because it’s a super food packed with antioxidants. Maybe I inspired a run. Doggone it. Have I blabbed myself right out of access to my favorite leafy green?
I don’t want to get a fatter head over this. More than likely, I had a miniscule effect on the kale supply. Kale fans are everywhere and its popularity is booming. The website Kaleeffect.com calls it “The food to eat in 2012.”
WebMD.com says this about kale: “Move over Popeye and make room for the ‘queen of greens,’ kale (is) … recognized for its exceptional nutrient richness, health benefits, and delicious flavor.” WebMD goes on to say, “(Kale) is one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet … Beyond antioxidants, the fiber content of cruciferous kale binds bile acids and helps lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease, especially when kale is cooked instead of raw.”
Full disclosure: WebMD also says “(T)oo much vitamin K can pose problems for some people. Anyone taking anticoagulants such as warfarin should avoid kale because the high level of vitamin K may interfere with the drugs … (Kale) contains oxalates, naturally occurring substances that can interfere with the absorption of calcium. Avoid eating calcium-rich foods like dairy at the same time as kale to prevent any problems.” Also, kale is on the dirty dozen list for sucking up pesticides, so it must be purchased organic to be safe (ewg.org/foodnews).
What else is in kale? It contains indole-3-carbinol, good for colon cancer; zeaxanthin and lutein, good for eyes; dietary fiber, good for cholesterol levels. It’s good for stomach, liver, immune system, and lung congestion, making it great for allergy season. It contains iron, phosphorous, magnesium, folate, riboflavin, and thiamin, manganese, potassium, copper, calcium, and vitamins A, C, K, and B6.
There are many websites out there dedicated to the wonders of kale. One site run by an avid kale lover is called 365daysofkale.com. Now that’s dedication. Her site is full of gardening tips, recipes, and nutritional information. Another site called Whfoods.org rattles on and on about the benefits of kale.
My most favorite site is eatmorekale.com, run by a man named Bo Muller-Moore from Montpelier, Vt. Bo’s site isn’t about eating kale so much as wearing it. He makes a T-shirt that says, simply, “Eat more kale.” He sold his shirts from a booth at the local farmers’ market for four years. His popularity grew. He began traveling the Northeast sells shirts and passing out stickers. His website hosts a wall where hundreds of people have sent him pictures of themselves wearing his kale shirt all over the world, map included.
He got a real boost when he received a cease-and-desist order from fast food company Chick-fil-A, whose slogan is “Eat mor chikin.” They claimed his slogan of “Eat more kale” was diluting the distinctiveness of their intellectual property. They ordered him to shut down and send them all his shirts. This legal threat triggered a groundswell of support. Both the former and current Vermont governors got behind Bo. His story was picked up by the New York Times (thank you teacher Teresa Finn for hooking me up with the clipping). Now his shirts are more popular than ever, and he’s acquired pro bono legal support from a local soup purveyor.
So, back to the subject of kale. I went to Raley’s Thursday to see if they had replenished their organic kale supply. I was shocked to see that not only was the bin still empty, but they were even out of the lacinato kale, a tasty but less popular variety used often in Italian recipes. I’m ready to call out McKale’s Navy.
What can I say? Please don’t buy any kale so I can have some? Nah. Go for it. Eat all the kale you can get your hands on. I’ll find out what day the deliveries come in and do my best to be first in line.
In the meantime, I’m waiting for my “Eat More Kale” T-shirt to arrive in the mail. I’ve already affixed the bumper sticker to the dented back hatch of my Tacoma (thanks again, Finn, for the sticker).
Steve Gibbs teaches at Benicia High School and has written a column for The Herald for 25 years.