Kale is way too hot right now

kale farming shortage Farmers have been planting kale in place of other crops as its popularity has risen.
Credit: Boston Globe

 

Let's get the bad news out of the way first: There's a kale shortage.The good news is that there's no reason to stockpile the leafy green juicing staple just yet.

 

 

A recent report quoted a major kale seed farm in the Netherlands saying it had run out of every variety of the vegetable — and its insatiable popularity is to blame. But the pain isn’t being felt locally just yet.

 

Ian Joskowitz, the COO of Westside Market NYC, says the grocer’s 110th Street location alone sells 1,000 pounds of kale a week. Though its supply is stable for now, a shortage wouldn’t be unprecedented — four months ago, the price of kale doubled for about five weeks. That spike was also caused by demand. “The sale of kale, just here, has at least quadrupled over the last two [to] three years,” he says.

Kale has come a long way from the humblest origins. “Especially in the supermarkets, kale was used as a garnish when you set up, like, a fish display,” Joskowitz says. “It was a throwaway vegetable. It’s incredible what has happened to it.”

But it really took off with the rise of juicing, where it was prized for its antioxidants and minerals. Since then, Westside Market has put it in everything, from soups to a Greek yogurt dip. “You almost can’t go wrong. I don’t think we’ve tried to sell kale in any form that hasn’t been successful.”

For NYC’s homegrown Juice Generation, there’s no worry. The juice bar buys upstate farms’ entire crops of kale, with supplies secured through October.

Kale has been good to Juice Generation for 10 years — there’s a reason their chalkboard signs say “Kale is king.” But founder Eric Helms is looking to the next big thing: collard greens.

“The nutritionists that I work with, and the people that help me develop our menu, we feel that collard greens are going to be the new kale,” he says. “I think people are always looking for something new and something with more nutrition and different taste.”

Look for the new varieties starting in October.

Follow Eva Kis on Twitter @thisiskis or email eva.kis@metro.us.