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Leafy greens and perpetual pests

The tax bill introduced last week would (among other disasters) gut funding for affordable housing preservation and development--this at a moment when 39 million American households live in homes they cannot afford.  My working life is all about affordable housing preservation and development.  I am alarmed.

And so I am going to write this blog post about kale.

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Kale became a big thing six or seven years ago; 2012 was declared the Year of Kale (by whom, I'm not sure).  I'm pretty sure some other things also happened in 2012.  But be that as it may, by then people were slamming back kale smoothies and scarfing up kale chips like nobody's business.    According to the Internet (which, as we know, is never wrong), prior to the current Kale-splosion, the biggest buyer of kale in America was Pizza Hut, which used it as an ornamental on salad bar displays.

I have documentary evidence that I was growing kale as early as 2005 --- witness this photo from my 2005 garden:

Look closely -- way down at the bottom left, there is some Red Russian growing proudly.   Was I actually eating the kale I grew back in 2005?  Can't remember, honestly.  Most likely I was selling it to Pizza Hut.

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Last month I was at Logan Airport, waiting to board a very big plane for a long, uncomfortable overnight flight.   I was bored so I headed off in search of a snack.  I ended up with these:

Kale chips are a pretty dumb airport snack.   They're not quite salty or crunchy or greasy enough to really satisfy.  Plus they make a mess:

European airports do not sell kale chips.  Look at these sensible snacks in the Bilbao airport:

I couldn't find kale chips in the Frankfurt airport, but I did find these:

I could make a joke here about the wurst possible option, or the wurst case scenario, or my wurst airport nightmare, or about eating these only if wurst came to wurst.

But I won't.  Because I will not stoop to that level of cheap humor.

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I am told that the Portuguese take their kale very seriously; and from what I saw growing near Lisbon, it seems to be true:

In this picture both the kale and my husband are shown at actual size.

Despite the steroidal plants, I found no kale salads on Lisbon menus.   Salad in southwestern Europe is in fact a fairly prescribed assemblage of green leaf lettuce, boiled eggs, tomatoes, olives and canned tuna.  Occasionally, if you're lucky, someone will drape a piece of smoked salmon over the lettuce.   So there's lox -- but no cream cheese!   I'm not sure why cream cheese is not a thing in western Europe.   Perhaps because it's all being diverted to American Japanese restaurants, where it shows up inexplicably in elaborate maki rolls.  What's up with that, anyway?

But I digress; this is not a blog post about cream cheese.  It is about American tax policy.  So let's get back to kale.

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My brother has a grudge against kale.   He is a fan of spinach, and he feels that kale has unseated spinach on restaurant salad menus.   And thus he is aggrieved.

All I can say, Howie, is that if Popeye were alive today, he would have your back on this one.  But alas, he is not.   It's 2017 and we've killed all our heroes.

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Kale is just about the only thing still growing in my very-late-season garden.

The kale, at this point, is under major siege by aphids.

My options for dealing with the aphids, as an organic gardener, are somewhat limited.  What you're supposed to do is to spray off the aphids with a strong blast of water.

Which I do; and it cleans the leaves off for a while.   But within a few days, the aphids inevitably return.

I am a bit baffed by this.   Does the world really contain an unlimited supply of aphids, ready at a moment's notice to climb up on some kale to take the place of their slaughtered brethren?

Perhaps it's not new aphids that reappear on the kale; perhaps it's the very same aphids I knocked off, climbing back up.   I see myself as garden Rambo:

while the aphids, meanwhile, are simply pulling a Buster Keaton:

My water blast is not a death blow to the aphids.   It is merely an inconvenience.

But the plants have not succumbed to the bugs:  somehow this process keeps the plants going, even well into November.   So I guess, futile though it seems, I will head out now to spray the aphids off yet again.

And then I will come back in and call my Congressman about the tax bill.   Because it's just the wurst.

Comments

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