Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Off the Grocery Shelves: Eating Your Greens

Kale is one of those vegetables that is experiencing a resurgence of interest among eaters in this country. A staple winter crop of yesteryears, few of the varieties once cultivated still make their way onto the dinner plate. Even at the farmers market, pickings are a mere shadow of what they could be: lacinato/dinosaur kale, Red Russian, and curly. With origins in Italy and the Mediterranean, this older sibling of cabbage has been a part of a human diet for 2,000 years. In fact, the hardy winter green played a critical role in the survival of the Scottish Highlanders!

Browsing the Cornell University Vegetable Variety Database, I came across 49 distinct varieties that made the phytophile in me almost giddy! A few different types of Siberian, the Lily White, Even'Star, and Pentland Brig, not to mention some Asian transplants like Ryokuho and Suiho. So now I am waiting with bated breath for kale for sale to diversify. In the meantime, I'll stick with some delightful Lacinato.

In fact, on Sunday, we made caramelized pears and kale with the kids at the community farm. My hopes weren't high considering we were cooking some green leafy substance. However, I was pleasantly surprised by how receptive and even enthusiastic the kids were about eating this slightly sweet superfood combo. Guess that just goes to show every veggie is worth half a chance!

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