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December 19th, 2014

Diversions

The planet will soon be kale-free and we can go back to not feeling self-conscious about the nutritional integrity of our salads

Rex Huppke

By Rex Huppke

Published August 12, 2014

The planet will soon be kale-free and we can go back to not feeling self-conscious about the nutritional integrity of our salads
Great news, everybody. We're running out of kale!

Well, perhaps "running out" is a bit strong. News reports have been vacillating between "global kale shortage" and a less apocalyptic assessment that the seed supply "is very, very tight."

Either way, if we keep our fingers crossed, the planet will soon be kale-free and we can go back to not feeling self-conscious about the nutritional integrity of our salads.

Now, there are certainly some people who aren't familiar with this particular vegetable. For those lucky few, kale is the stuff that the people you can't stand to be around won't shut up about. It's a green, leafy vegetable that looks like a cabbage that smoked two packs of cigarettes a day for three decades and just learned it has emphysema.

If you've never tasted kale, imagine licking a pile of freshly cut grass, and then imagine something quite a bit worse. It tastes best when prepared with anything that is not kale. The only person in history who has said he enjoyed eating it and then passed a subsequent polygraph test is a man in Seattle who wrapped one kale leaf in so much bacon that the plant matter effectively ceased to exist.

Kale was invented in 2011 by a farmer in Maine whose wife asked him if he could come up with something she could add to salads that was more pretentious than radicchio and less tasty than the bottom of her sandal. Foodies -- a subculture of people oddly comfortable with using the word "mouthfeel" -- discovered this new veggie and dubbed it a nutrient-rich superfood, though its primary health benefit was engorging their already swollen sense of superiority.

Pretty soon, you couldn't throw a BPA-free bottle of coconut water at a farmers market without hitting a bushel of kale. It was blended into smoothies, boiled, broiled, sauteed, turned into chips, tossed with quinoa and generally consumed by everyone who is anyone, including Gwyneth Paltrow, Kevin Bacon and that one guy in accounting who always had a piece stuck in his teeth.

Dietitians and nutritionists have hailed kale as a rich source of vitamin A, vitamin K, fiber, antioxidants, carotenoids, calcium, iron and, I don't know, let's say the Super Soldier Serum that made Captain America so strong.

But now, due to its perverse popularity, kale supplies are running low. ABC News in Australia (that's the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, not our ABC) reported recently that Bejo Seeds, one of the main global suppliers of kale seeds, has "run out of every variety of the trendy vegetable."

Once the kale shelves run dry and the kale hoarders have offloaded their stores at exorbitant prices, the foodies will be hungry for a new fad.

And I have just the thing: my newspaper columns.

Sure, there are people out there in the lamestream health media promoting burgeoning superfoods like Peruvian pichuberries, black soybeans and an Ethiopian grain called teff, which appears to be rebranded sawdust.

But imagine being the first person in your Composting Enthusiasts of America chapter to bring up the inestimable health benefits of eating locally sourced newspaper columns.

Of course the traditional printed version of my columns would be the most desirable: organic (sort of), rich in fiber and free range (I often walk around untethered while writing them). Also, given that many now get their news online, a freshly harvested column on newsprint would boast a certain retro cachet.

For those who do read primarily online, the columns could be printed on your choice of vitamin-enriched paper, preferably using soy-based ink for an added protein boost. Digital-only connoisseurs would have to pull my column up on their smartphones and then swallow the device whole.

The writing is on the co-op wall, folks. Kale is on its way out, and American foodthusiasts need something new to make you feel ignorant about.

Get ready to see your foodie friends feasting on my artisanal newspaper columns.

They certainly can't taste any worse than kale.

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Rex Huppke is a columnist for The Chicago Tribune and a noted hypocrisy enthusiast.

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