Another dark green leafy vegetable, kale grows well in colder weather and you’ll find it locally both early and late in the season. Kale is a relative of cabbage and you could well think of it as a loose leaf version of its more common “headed” cousin.
For centuries, kale was the most popular green leafy due to its being extremely hardy to soil and pest problems that afflict other crops. These properties lead to recommendations to plant kale during WWII as a great way to supplement nutrition lost due to rationing.
As modern farming techniques and trucking made this hardiness less important for commercial crops, kale lost ground to more delicate lettuces and such. This is a shame because kale provides much more nutrition than many of the crops that have surpassed it. Like spinach, kale is a terrific source of vitamins K, A and C as well as a significant source of manganese.
Recent studies have shown many heath benefits of the phytonutrients found in abundance in kale. Included in these benefits are anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Recent studies link systemic inflammation to many “modern illnesses” and adding kale to your diet is one way to help combat this trend.
Kale can be used in many of the same ways as spinach but adds a special flavor to slow cooked soups and when chopped into a variety of salads.
Of course, the health benefits of kale are best when it is grown locally and picked fresh. One of the best things you can do with Kale is freeze it. Freezing actually enhances the flavor bringing out its natural sweetness. Look for it in your local farmers’ market.