KALE. DON’T HATE THE PLAYER, HATE THE GAME
By Jennifer Stokes
Unless you have been fortunate enough to live on the remote plains of northern Mongolia for the past decade, then you may have come across kale. This delicious dark green, curly-leaved cabbage has quietly been making its way onto Italian tables in bowlfuls of ribollita, farmers’ pies, pastas, and salads since the Middles Ages. Yet in more recent times it has sadly become an innocent poster child for a rather loud, lucrative and sanctimonious healthy living epidemic.
With a nutritional super pedigree, kale boasts a symphony of vitamins, minerals, anticarcinogens, antioxidants and fat dissolving properties. But thanks to these enormous health benefits, this ancient, ordinary cabbage varietal has been smugly rebranded as an elite, must-eat superfood.
The likes of young, virulent, smooth skinned wellness warriors with straight white teeth and overactive Instagram accounts, hemp clad vegan bloggers, media moguls cashing in on our obsession with health and wellness, and big brand vitamin producers have all contributed to a kale revolution, exploiting this humble brassica oleracea, and leaving it with an exclusive, rather sanctimonious reputation.
Kale, however, should not be exclusive. It should not be reserved for the few whose daily rituals involve mulching this ancient green vegetable into a pulp and ‘drinking’ it between high intensity barre-cardio fusion classes and barefoot runs on the beach. Neither should it be reserved for a clean living hashtag or a gluten, dairy, nut, egg, and fat free blog post. No! It should be relished and devoured. Cooked in butter and garlic then tossed wildly through anchovies and parsley. It should be fried in olive oil, slathered on a doorstop of toasted sourdough and topped with a poached egg.
We need to liberate kale. Relinquish it from its unnatural blender bedfellows of spirulina, wheatgrass and other tasteless green weeds. We need to take it back out of the hands of those paleo, raw food advocates who have claimed it for their wellness war against butter, milk, and bread. It is not a health supplement; it is food.
Now I’m not against people wanting to lead healthy lifestyles, far from it in fact. Plenty of exercise and a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and lean proteins is no bad thing. But it is the pathological and hubristic sanctimony attached to broadcasting and promoting revolting raw kale juices and recipes just for the sake of being healthy and looking good, which I don’t condone.
There is no need to buy into any sort of pleasure-limiting, calorie restricting culture to enjoy eating kale. Kale doesn’t have to taste hideous, it doesn’t have to be eaten solely when you are dieting, and you certainly don’t have to photograph yourself in the gym mirror, wearing compression stockings and St Tropez to eat it.