Health mission

Kids know that vegetables are important to their health, but could they actually taste good, too?

According to local farmers, the answer is yes.

As part of a state-wide recognition of Food Day on Oct. 15, when schools celebrate healthy, affordable and sustainably-produced foods, students at four local schools sampled some of their favorite foods, like chips or macaroni and cheese, but with a catch — each dish included kale.

While some students were scared to try the leafy green additions to their otherwise tasty meals, others were brave and found, much to their surprise, that eating healthy can also be appetizing.

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“I love kale. It tastes a lot like lettuce,” said Lydia Taylor, a fifth grader at Smith Elementary.

Students at Smith, Parkside and Clifty Creek elementary schools and Columbus Signature Academy — New Tech campus each celebrated Food Week with morning kale “nutrifacts,” samplings of kale cheesy bake and kale chips and even kale coloring sheets for the younger students.

Rick Bush, a local kale farmer, also made stops at Smith and Clifty Creek to show students what raw kale looks like and to share the plant’s health benefits.

Kale is good for blood pressure, cholesterol and general heart health, among other things, Bush said.

But even those health benefits could not strike a chord with some of the younger Smith students.

“Kale is nasty,” said first-grader Ben Morris. “I just don’t like green stuff.”

But fifth-grader Aliyah Robertson disagreed. Kale tastes like spinach, she said, and spinach isn’t all that bad, which means, to her, green foods must be OK.

Most of Aliyah’s fifth-grade classmates agreed, while Ben’s first-grade friends shared his aversion to all things green.

But despite the turned up noses of the younger students, the schools continued to feature kale on their salad bars throughout food week in the hopes that maybe, just maybe, the students would learn to love eating the leafy green vegetable just as much as Bush loves growing it.

“It’s one of the healthiest plants you can grow,” he said.

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Kale has been proven to cause several positive health effects, including:

  • Lowering blood sugar levels
  • Reducing risk of heart disease, stroke
  • Blocking carcinogens
  • Improving bone health
  • Improving digestion
  • Healthier skin and hair