Everlasting kale should be grown by everyone, if only because it will help save your eyes from macular degeneration and cataracts; it's all about a phytochemical called lutein.
Many folk have a serious dislike for kale, and it’s not entirely surprising; unless the leaves are young and freshly picked, it is not very appetising. Nevertheless, for those who have an aversion to doctors poking sharp objects into their eyes, it is the richest source of lutein, that phytochemical found exclusively in the macular of the eye. If for that reason alone, we eat it every single day.
Summer, perhaps surprisingly, is a time when it is often more difficult to grow fresh, wholesome organic greens without chemicals. The lettuce is burnt by the hot sun, and the spinach is covered with mould, but kale soldiers on, giving us a daily supply as we pluck off the young shoots. One can and perhaps should eat it both raw and cooked.
I love plants that go on bearing, year after year, without much fuss. This kale plant above must be at least five years old and every day it supplies us with half a dozen fresh young leaves for Eggs Hilton; a breakfast that is so good that I cannot now go without it. I’m totally addicted!
It’s our variation of the old Italian favourite, Eggs Florentine, poached on a bed of spinach. With added onion, garlic and peppadews, it is a guarantee there will be no hunger pangs at 11 o’clock. So there will be no temptation to reach for some corona-food; a cola and a cookie. Refined carbs are the great enemy.
It's no exaggeration to state that this one plant has provided us with at least five hundred rand per year of food, at current supermarket prices.
There are many varieties of kale; we have at least five growing, carefully fenced off from the hens. They know good food when they see it, and will demolish your crop given half a chance. Even more than us they are utterly dependent on good eyesight for survival. Each has its benefits with greater or lesser amounts of folic acid and various minerals, but all are by far the richest source of lutein.
Those who indulge daily in this wonder food can reasonably expect to escape cataracts and macular degeneration. Another phytochemical, zeaxanthin, is also needed for that assurance. More about it another day; meantime the green mealie is a great source.
This is a much younger seedling; it seeded itself under the mother plant.
One of the bioactive compounds found in kale is a flavonoid called kaempferol; there are many studies showing that those who consume it regularly have a far lower risk of cardiovascular disease and malignant tumours. We look upon our everlasting kale plant as medicine; what it tastes like is irrelevant.
Let your food be your medicine, said Hippocrates, the father of modern doctors. How right he was; we don't look to get these important compounds from pills. Many of them are to be found in our green garden.
Kale is also a great source of fibre that will keep you regular and feed that mass of healthy, friendly bugs that inhabit your intestine, known as the microbiome. A huge amount of research on these bacteria and yeasts has led to them being called the ‘second brain.’ They supply the body with important neurotransmitters like dopamine, and energy for the lining of the cells of the colon.
They have to be fed pre-biotics; the indigestible fibre in your starches.
We try to grow a new vegetable or fruit every year instead of buying it from the greengrocer; half a dozen kale seedlings planted right now would do your family a power of good.
Everlasting kale is for those who do not relish the idea of doctors poking sharp instruments into their eyes.
Medicine places great store behind prevention is better than a cure, but when were you last encouraged to make sure you regularly have dark green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach on the table?
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