Kale and Beyond

In the past few years kale has taken the cake as being the new almighty vegetable and the symbol for healthy eating.  It’s good news, it means people are eating more vegetables and more greens. Go chlorophyll, antioxidants, vitamins and fiber! It’s my go to veggie as well–after all there are at least four kinds of kale.

But let me remind you that kale wasn’t born yesterday.

It’s been on the market for quite sometime. My parents whom are organic farmers have been growing it since the 1980’s. There are a slew of other greens we might enjoy and one of the best things we can do health wise whether we are vegan, a carnivore or somewhere in between– is to eat widely. Eating a variety of plants, seeds and protein sources will offer our bodies an important spectrum of nutrients and phytochemcials. Becoming too narrow can be problematic health wise.

There is no secret ingredient that is going to make you healthy.

(Well, there are but it’s about 5 things including overall diet, exercise, stress and lifestyle.)

Kale eating has become a trend which is not inherently bad, especially not for kale. It’s also been declared a super food–which is a whole other discussion. Let me repeat: one single nutrient will not make you healthy.

I’d much rather that kale become popular than fast food eating. But health is much more than a trend and the culture of food and health in this country still seems to exist in extremes. While the organic industry and natural products are selling in the high billions, we are still poised between the nutty health people and those that are sticking to traditions.

The list is long for greens. We might consider:

Collards (also not the new kale, collards have been a staple of black Southern food for ages)
Bok Choy
Cabbage
Chinese Cabbage
Mizuno
Swiss Chard
Broccoli
Broccolini
Mustard Greens
Spinach
All the Lettuces
Romaine
Butter
Red Leaf
Frisee
Endive
Escarole

Greens of your favorite roots can be cleverly worked in soups, smoothies, bakes, sautees and are not just for compost such as:

Beets
Carrots
Turnips

And quite a few others depending on your markets or what you decide to grow in your garden.

Let us enjoy our kale and look beyond. I read in an article today in the Nation where healthy concerned Berkeley, California parents were referred to as kale-growing and health conscious. Another fitness maven I discovered recently put on their website as a tagline: I don’t eat meat. I eat kale.

Really, I get the sentiment and I am grateful. Eating a plant-based diet will go along way and it’s the foundation that our obesity/diabetes/cancer nation so desperately needs. I also see where we need to get specific. Just using the word healthy doesn’t cut it.

How would you describe people dedicated to putting the best nourishing foods our planet has to offer on our plates?

More about what I think it takes to be healthy here. 

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