Friday, February 20, 2009

Kale and the Nutritional Possibilities of Healthy School Lunches

I recently returned from an all too brief trip to Italy, where I attended the first Spannocchia Symposium: Food, Landscape, and Community in Tuscany and New England.

Cavalo Nero, Toscano Kale was ever present and featured in a number of wintertime dishes. We have many varieties of kale to choose from when selecting seed. In addition to Toscano, growers in the northeast often plant Winterbor or Red Russian as their varieties of choice. Here on the Southcoast many gardens feature Couve Tronchuda or Portuguese Kale; which has a flatter cabbage like leaf.

Kale has long been heralded as a nutritional workhorse (its high in beta-carotene, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and more vitamins and minerals) and should merit inclusion in any garden plan. I wonder how often kale finds its way into the school lunches served up in our region? Its ability to withstand cooler temperatures would make it an ideal ingredient in dishes served throughout the fall and early/winter.

Alice Waters and Katrina Heron (co-producer of Civil Eats) have authored a timely editorial published in today's New York Times, "No Lunch Left Behind". I've been considering the importance in reinvesting in our school lunch programs, especially in light of the current economic situation. To me, it just makes plain sense that in a time when families are struggling to afford healthy nutritious food that we would increase our school lunch budgets, thereby providing our children with a healthy and nutritious meal during every school day. No doubt there is a lot of work ahead of us, on the policy-front the time to act is upon us, Congress will be working to reauthorize the Child Nutrition and WIC Act in 2009. Read Debra Eschmeyer's recent post Dear Mom-in-Chief for a more detailed plea for action.

No comments: