Keep Kale Cool

Keep Kale Cool

If you’re a fan of this cruciferous vegetable, here’s what you need to know.

When the weather service issues a winter storm warning, folks stock up on essentials. This often leads to a shortage of supermarket items such as toilet paper, water, milk, bread and eggs. But in recent years, weather-worried grocery shoppers in a number of cities have reported a shortage of kale. The leafy green is so popular in places such as Portland, Oregon and New York City that shoppers report it’s near impossible to find the superfood even before the first snowfall.

Kale, a cruciferous vegetable, rich in polyphenols and high in fiber, has become a staple of a healthy diet (even in warmer weather). However, the hardy, healthy green has suffered a setback. This year’s report from the Environmental Working Group, authors of the annual Dirty Dozen list on pesticide residue in fruits and veggies, says after strawberries and spinach, kale has the highest levels of pesticide residue of all produce sold in US supermarkets.

According to the report, 92 percent of conventionally grown kale samples tested by the USDA had traces of two or more pesticides. Some had as many as 18! Some of these pesticides have been linked to cancer, autism, ADHD and Alzheimer’s disease.

If you want to keep eating kale—and you should—consider buying organic. And organic or not, thoroughly wash your produce. Some chefs and foodies recommend making an ice water bath to soak kale leaves for a little while. Pour out the dirty water and soak them again; then give your precious greens a quick rinse.

Medically reviewed in November 2019.

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