What will it take for us to reclaim our health? Simple shifts. That's what all the green buzz about kale boils down to. Swap pretty much anything in your diet for kale and you've made a healthy choice. Kale is so nutrient-dense, delicious, and surprisingly versatile that it bumps up the nutrition in everything from smoothies and salads to pizza and popcorn. Yes, there is a miracle in kale's crunch.
Just a simple shift, say from a potato chip to kale chip, is a step from nutritional carbage to a delicious green snack filled with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and plant-based antioxidants. Jason Mandala, a farmer and educator, made a simple shift. He started eating kale regularly and his health improved (I hear this story daily now.) His simple shift - just a little more kale - grew into something much larger and more important. This Wednesday, over 8,000 children will eat locally-grown kale chips in 17 schools in Missoula, Mont. Their collective crunch resonates with me, and I suspect with you. We can make a simple shift that is about more than kale: It is about embracing a healthier, greener, more connected lifestyle that builds community and local food culture.
Last spring a band of kale lovers formed to spread kale's message of the health benefits, culinary versatility and to use kale to celebrate the amazing progress in America's local food production. Today, there are 8,144 farmers markets in America, according to the USDA. Kale and other farm fresh, nutrient-dense whole foods are arguably more available than anytime in recent history. The shift is simple. (Did I mention also delicious?)
We called ourselves Team Kale, and we are chefs, nutritionists, doctors, farmers, food advocates, parents, health coaches, and activists. We went to work building nationalkaleday.org, which is full of recipes, resources, and our free Kale Hero Toolkit. We created a petition asking President Obama to recognize National Kale Day as an official American holiday. (After all, Mr. President, we have a National Donut Day in America, and we suspect this a great opportunity to get you points with The First Lady.)
The inaugural National Kale Day is today, Wednesday, Oct. 2, and will be held the first Wednesday in October every year. We want you to join us.
Please join the National Kale Day by:
- Signing the National Kale Day petition on Change.org, and encouraging your network to sign.
- Tweeting and posting about National Kale Day on Google+, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest #nationalkaleday.
- Joining our day of Live Forums on all things kale! Check out the Events.
- Celebrate by making delcious Kale Chips! Just pre-heat the oven to 375, and then toss 2 inch, destemed peices of kale with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. You can also add in any other spices like turmeric or chili powder. Then spread the kale out on a baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes or until leaves are crunchy!
If you wonder what the heck all the kale fuss is about, it's easy to sum up. Kale means health: a multi-colored superfood from the cruciferous family of vegetables that everyone from vegan to paleo embraces. Yes, almost all plants are a healthy choice, but when it comes to nutrient density, culinary versatility, local availability and value, nothing beats kale.
Team Kale came alive with a vision of communities that eat together, that feast on nutrient-dense plants, and that take pleasure in the mutual delight of eating delicious food. My co-founder Chef Jennifer Iserloh and I have felt blessed as organizations and individuals dedicated to the mission of National Kale Day reached out and our numbers grew. Last week, we helped prepare two giant kale salads at the Hoboken Shelter with a Chef Q, an inspirational man who five years ago was homeless. The week prior to we stood in the largest organic kale field in America -- a sea of green possibility that swayed in the California breeze.