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Very versatile: Kale certainly not just for decoration

It’s low in calories, high in fiber, iron, Vitamin K (which can help ward off various cancers and can help those who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease), antioxidants, Vitamin A (great for vision and skin), Vitamin C (immune system booster) and calcium and has zero fat. What more could one ask for out of one food? That’s kale.

New this year to Detroit Lakes, PartnerSHIP4Health, Essentia Health St. Mary’s, Detroit Lakes Chamber of Commerce and Price’s Fine Jewelry are helping introduce and promote kale with the One Vegetable One Community program.

“The idea is to rally the community around growing, cooking and sharing a single vegetable,” St. Mary’s Nutrition Services Manager Marsha Parker said. “We want people to be aware how important it is to have access to fresh and healthy foods.”

Anyone in the community is welcome to a “kale kit,” which includes seeds, instructions, recipes, garden stake and information on kale. SHIP provided the seeds, and St. Mary’s provided the printing of brochures and promotion of the program.

The idea came out of a meeting with SHIP and everyone from farmers to healthcare providers, those interested in providing healthy food to the public. One initiative that was discussed was One Vegetable One Community.

So a smaller group from that initial meeting got together and figured out where to have pick-up sites for the kale kits and started to promote the cause.

“Our hope is that there will be kale growing in planters at some of the businesses downtown. Bergen’s is going to slip some kale into planters that people order from them. Possibly La Barista will be featuring kale in a couple different ways this summer.

“Central Market has a really good kale salad. We’re going to be doing a cooking demo at the farmer’s market using kale. We’re just really promoting the one vegetable,” she said.

Though the One Vegetable One Community program is new to Detroit Lakes, it isn’t necessarily new in general. Other communities have participated in the program, which meant the kale promotional pieces were already in place for Detroit Lakes to use for its first year.

“Kale is really nutritious, you can’t beat it. It’s very versatile too because you can make kale chips, you can make into a salad, you can sauté it, you can put it into soup,” Parker said as other good reasons for promoting kale this year.

 Kale’s popularity is becoming more and more prevalent, too.

“Most people think of kale as that stuff that lines salad bars or that little bit of garnish, but it’s quite edible,” Parker said with a laugh.

Each year of One Vegetable One Community, a new vegetable will be featured and promoted.

Parker said that at the guest services area in Essentia Health, they have already given out over 100 kale kits. Besides St. Mary’s, the kale kits are available at the chamber, the Detroit Lakes Library, Price’s Fine Jewelry, the Detroit Lakes Community and Cultural Center, Bergen’s Greenhouse, Becker Pet & Garden, Midwest Bank and First Security Bank.

“We’re just really excited that we can support an initiative like this at Essentia Health St. Mary’s because we’re really looking at how we can partner with the community and really increase awareness of having access to healthy foods,” Parker said.

Follow Pippi Mayfield on Twitter at @PippiMayfield.