January 17, 2017

Kale conspiracy undermined by CDC report

Your editor has irritated farm and foodie friends by arguing that there is a kale conspiracy - especially against my favorite green, spinach. This view has gained new  support from a report that says kale has only 57% of  the nutrient density of spinach. 

Alternet -  In the food world, the biggest celebrity of all might be kale — the Shakira of salads, the Lady Gaga of leafy greens. It’s universally recognized that kale anything—kale chips, kale pesto, kale face cream — instantly imparts a health halo. Even 7-Eleven is making over its image by offering kale cold-pressed juices. And yes, kale has plenty of benefits — including high levels of folate and more calcium, gram for gram, than a cup of milk.

Still, kale’s actually not the healthiest green on the block. In fact, in a report published by the Centers for Disease Control that ranked 47 “powerhouse fruits and vegetables,” kale placed only 15th (with 49.07 points out of 100 for nutrient density).

Ranking of ten leafy alternatives

The CDC report

1 comment:

Louis Massano said...

The thing about kale in relation to spinach is that kale can grow even in inhospitably cool climates, on what a farmer would consider waste ground. And, as many people already know, there are even decorative varieties that are used in landscaping during the autumn and into the winter here in some of the northern tier states. In Scotland people still grow kale in Scotland around their houses in what are called "kaleyards." A Scots friend of mine told me that kale has always been as much a staple of Scottish cookery as oats.

But there appears to be, from my own recent travels, something to the stereotype of southern California as the "Land of Kale Smoothies"(ugh!). To me that regional typecasting was confirmed in a pleasant way when I visited Lancaster, California - an interesting town with a Republican past (since it was begun by ranchers and for years was home to military people from a local air force base) about a year ago. But Lancaster began to change in the 1990s - in 1996 its performing arts center opened on its main street, Lancaster Boulevard (www.lpac.org) and later on, a very substantial museum of contemporary arts across the Boulevard. All around that area are what some big-city types like David Brooks would call "BoBo" ("Bourgeois Bohemian") venues like coffee houses, some good restaurants with artsy themes, and even several local breweries the local citizenry are very proud of.

Lancaster is an interesting, young, mostly undeveloped town in the high desert just about 85 miles northeast of Los Angeles. One surprising thing is that good quality old homes are inexpensive. So there is an older population in Lancaster who are dying off (military retirees, many of them) or who were moving farther away from Lancaster because its newer, younger, left-leaning population is not to their liking. (One young woman I met, whose father is a retired naval commander, said she was headed for Utah - unfortunately, since she seemed an otherwise pleasant person, because of changes in racial and ethnic makeup in Lancaster that are happening in addition to changes in age and political preference.

All that by way noting that when I passed the cozy restaurants (the best for me - and the friendliest and most socially conscientious - was the Lemon Leaf Cafe ( http://www.lemonleaf.com/, which seemed to have been managed and staffed entirely by women) and coffee houses on West Lancaster Boulevard near the performing arts center, I often saw on the slate sandwich boards posted outside kale-based dishes like kale salads, an kale versions of Asian dishes.

I had to give up spinach because - while all dark greens vegetables have large amounts of oxalic acid, kale (and parsley as well) have a great deal of it. I have an hereditary disposition to form oxalic acid kidney stones, so I had to switch to collards, broccoli - and kale, all of which I steam cook.

When I was a kid my mom would always tell me to eat my spinach very carefully, because I could choke on spinach. I never did - but there is a dish of special interest to me, since my ethnic background is Italian(-American) - very delicious - that uses kale in a spinach-ricotta cheese dumpling. The name of the dish - which is simple to make - exemplifies a traditional, underground anti-clerical humor.

The dish is called "Strozzapreti" which translates into "It Strangles Priests" or (better) "Priest Stranglers."

Here's a link to the recipe - it's just about the same in every cookbook I've seen - except that this one has a spice called "Four Spices," which isn't essential:

(Caution: this Florentine dish is definitely not "heart healthy"):