“I did not start The Kale Project to change French cuisine or tell the French how to eat.” – Kristen Beddard
Kale, a member of the cabbage family, is a green (sometimes violet) leafy vegetable with curly (sometimes smooth) leaves. It has a long history and was common in Europe thousands of years ago. People back in the day found kale easy to grow, even during the winter season. Thus, it effortlessly became a diet staple – as it is also a good source of vitamins and minerals.
Although the vegetable is still available in many European countries and in North America, Kristen Beddard found it difficult to get kale in France when she moved there in 2011. According to her, “Kale is included in the category of “légume oublié,” or lost/forgotten vegetables. But in France, it was so lost and forgotten that a lot of people did not even know what it was.”
As her research led her to realize that there were other people (mostly expats) who were also looking for kale in France, she had the idea of starting a project: The Kale Project Paris.
While in America, Kristen grew up eating kale:
“I love kale because it’s something I’ve eaten my entire life but I believe that our consumption habits should always be in moderation, so I like all vegetables. Of course those in the cruciferous family really are my favourites.”
And because she couldn’t get kale from farmer’s markets and groceries in France, she thought of “re-introducing” the vegetable in the country. Not everyone is pleased with The Kale Project but Kristen was able to find farmers and chefs who are willing to grow and serve the vegetable.
“I did not start The Kale Project to change French cuisine or tell the French how to eat. It was just an opportunity to work with local, French farmers to grow another variety of cabbage with European origins.”
As more and more people become aware of the project, kale is steadily growing in presence in many parts of France. And still more people are anxiously waiting for the vegetable to reach them. Currently, the products on offer include kale salad, kale chips, kale pesto, and of course, kale seeds.