I always crave garbage when I finish working out. No, not putrid smelly bags of last week's dinners, but something with a similar nutritional content. I want grease, I want salt, I want a million calories per bite. I always feel great when I get off the elliptical or bike, like I did something really wonderful for my body and what the hell if I eat a bag of chips. It definitely feels like my workout will negate anything bad that I decide to consume afterwards.
Unfortunately for me and my cravings, this is not true. Sure, my metabolism will be a few seconds faster after the workout, but that doesn't mean I can eat my weight in chips and cookies. Besides, there is no point in negating all the great things I just did for my body. It would be like quitting smoking to become an alcoholic. No point.
So, how do I kick the post-workout crap craving? I eat kale chips. I love kale—I could eat it at every meal if it didn't throw my iron levels out of whack—and used to make tons of kale chips in my oven for this purpose exactly. My dad never wanted to try anything I made with kale. For a while, I'm pretty sure he thought kale was a type of fish. One day, my friend Nora and I asked him to drive to my apartment to photograph dishes that we intended to use for the cookbook we were co-authoring at the time. We pulled the kale chips out of the oven and he was suddenly intrigued. Carefully, he put the smallest morsel of a kale chip to his lips and his whole life was changed.
Usually when someone tells me that something has changed their life, I assume that they are lying to me and I quietly vow to never try that product for as long as I live, so help me god. Except that, and it pains me to say this, my dad's life was actually changed. He finished the pan of chips and the photo shoot and drove home. A few weeks later, I received a text well past his usual bedtime. It was a cellphone photo of a blurry green mass captioned I made my own kale chips. You should try using a dehydrator next time. I continued to receive texts at odd hours for the next few months. It was no longer surprising to wake up at 2AM with a message that said new recipe, Dante's Inferno kale chips. You won't like it. Too spicy 4 u. I began finding voicemails left while I was at class requesting recommendations for spice combinations, information about raw food diets, and do I want to start a business selling kale chips for him.
Almost a year later, Tasty Kale has received the green light go ahead from the Connecticut Health Department. Co-founders Larry Brownstein and Tom Brophy have worked hard to promote their product around the community. Brownstein says “I started making the chips for my own consumption during the Largest Loser weight loss competition at the JCC. People kept coming up to me asking what I was eating and it just sort of snowballed from there.” Bandmate and workout buddy Brophy meets my dad at their shared kitchen a few mornings a weeks to start the dehydrators and package the previous night's batch.
This week, Brownstein and Brophy are applying for guest vendor spots at local farmers' markets and talking to local grocery store owners to market and sell their chips, boasting that they already have a strong fan base. Their facebook page (just type Tasty Kale in the search bar) is littered with praises, like “Thank you for the sample! I got my mother enjoying the Kale:) The name "Tasty" speaks for itself!” and “The name describes the product..Highly recommended.” I can attest that the crispy kale chips are much loved around here. I work at a locally-owned vegetarian market and I constantly have people asking me if I am the Tasty Kale man's daughter. Then they hand over a bag of kale chips and say can you believe someone is trying to pass this off as kale chips?! and until now, I haven't been able to definitively say when Tasty Kale will be on the market.
Besides the flavor and nutrition benefits of these local kale chips, there are a few other reasons why Tasty Kale is great. Buying a local product at a local market boosts local economy and creates a stronger sense of community. Give a local man money and he will spend it locally. Locally grown kale turned into kale chips by two local men who then sell it at a locally-owned grocery store to local people...that puts money into our community, money that can be used to improve our streets, our schools, and our parks. It boosts our local economy to make our local community better.
I love farmers' markets because I can ask the farmer directly about the growing process that my fruits and vegetables have gone through before making their way into my salad. I can ask the dairy farmers how their cows are doing and if there is anything I should be aware of before adding raw milk to my cereal. I like to know that I can drive by the strawberry fields that made my shortcake possible. I like to know the name of the goat that produced the cheese I used on my panini. No one is more knowledgeable about the product that person who made it. Sure, product labels offer consumers a glimpse into what they are getting out of something aside from the flavor, but you can't ask a bag any questions.
Small community grocers source their products themselves and even if the farmer him or herself can't be there to address your concerns, the grocer most likely can. A lot of people have been concerned about e coli in their sprouts and I know from experience that big box grocery stores cannot offer me the consolation I need to purchase the sprouts. I'm usually sent off with a you'll be fine, if they address my concern at all. But ask a local grocer and he or she will most likely be able to tell you yes, there is a slight risk, the farm has animals as well as produce or no need to be concerned, this farm is vegetable-only and there is no risk of fecal matter contaminating your sprouts.
Usually questions that arise are produce-based, things that rarely, if ever, come with labels. For me, and I'm sure others feel the same, I'm more concerned about the products with labels. Why is this company boasting the lycopene content, but ignoring the amount of high fructose corn syrup? Why have they pointed out the low carbohydrate levels without acknowledging that all remaining carbs are from white sugars and not good dietary fiber?
This is why I think Tasty Kale has become so popular. If anyone has any questions about the product, they will most likely be able to find either of the founders at the gym, at the grocery store, or in town eating lunch. People know who to ask and Brownstein and Brophy are more than happy to answer any of the questions that get thrown at them, even taking the time to research everything they couldn't answer at the time.
I know I probably sound biased. After all, I did give Papa Kale the idea, but I never knew that other people would ever find kale chips interesting. When I was first asked to be a part of the Tasty Kale team, I said no. I didn't want to wake up at 4AM to start the dehydrator. I didn't want to carry samples around with me or wear a Tasty Kale shirt. I kick myself in my kale-filled teeth every time someone approaches me about the chips. But not to worry! You'll see me at a market soon. Just don't be discouraged by the flecks of green in my teeth. It's just snacks for later.
For more information about Tasty Kale, their website is www.tastykale.com. While the website isn't totally finished yet, it does have a link to their facebook page where Brownstein and Brophy post updates about when and where kale chips will be available.