In the past five years, kale has become so much more than the bitter, leafy green that your hippie aunt serves you as you think lustfully of the Almond Joys hidden in the bottom of your suitcase.
To eat kale — to choose its harsh flavor and fibrous texture over say, spinach — is to make a declaration that you are HEALTHY, that you LIKE veggies, and that you PROBABLY ride a fixed-gear bike.
For those of us less enchanted by the nutrient-rich leaf, help may be on the way.
Researchers at Cornell have started developing new kale varieties that they hope will be more appealing to both growers and consumers.
While breeders usually focus on producing plants that are more resistant to disease, pests, and drought, horticulture professor Philip Griffiths and graduate student Hannah Swegarden are working instead to produce new types of kale based on what consumers would enjoy eating.
“Kale in the U.S. is a relatively new crop,” Swegarden said, “Aside from being nutritious and somewhat green, it hasn’t been well defined what traits consumers want in kale.”
In order to identify these traits, Griffiths and Swegarden organized a focus-group of 14 people to taste and review six varieties of kale. Participants voiced interest in a softer leaf, with a less bitter flavor.
We’ll have to wait a while for less kale-y kale, though. Swegarden says it may be eight years before the new varieties hit the shelves.