HAHRC Beats : Local kids go crazy over kale

HOLLIS DUNLOP watches as Mid Valley Elementary School kids sign a pledge to eat more fruits and vegetables, at the Oct. 24 Tasting Table event featuring pears.

Photo by Esther Smith
HOLLIS DUNLOP watches as Mid Valley Elementary School kids sign a pledge to eat more fruits and vegetables, at the Oct. 24 Tasting Table event featuring pears.


“Mmm ... that’s really good.”

“What will happen to me if I eat it?”


Of all the comments I’ve heard from elementary school kids, the one that has surprised me most has been those three simple words: “I. Love. Kale.” Often followed by, “Can I have more?”

A partnership between the OSU Extension Office and Gorge Grown Farmers Market has begun bringing some new tastes to local school children in a program called “Tasting Tables.”

Volunteer adults arrive before lunch with an array of samples of a single type of produce — fruits, vegetables, and most recently, kale — encouraging children to take a taste adventure and learn about previously untried, healthy foods.

The goals of the Tasting Tables are:

n To highlight a fruit or vegetable once per month in each of the elementary and middle schools in Hood River county;

n To give Hood River County students the chance to try some local fruits and vegetables that they may not have been able to try before; and

n To learn the value of eating a healthy diet.

Students can track their eating adventure in Local Food Passports. The Passports show pictures of the Tasting Tables’ nine fruits and veggies.

In September we offered tomatoes. October’s pick of the month was the pear. In November, I was worried. How could I promote a veggie that I loathed as a child? What would it take for a child to enjoy eating something leafy and green?

The answer is, not that much. Baked kale chips are an easy way to get kids to eat this iron- and vitamin-rich veggie. They are also easy to make — please see the recipe below.

The vast majority of the kids at each school embraced new tastes with glee.

You’ll never know if you truly like something or not until you try. In fact, it takes most of us 12 tries of a food before we like it. So don’t give up if your first try doesn’t taste as good as you hoped. Our kids learn from us. So we can role model healthy eating habits for them.

The next months of the Tasting Tables will bring potatoes, winter squash, mushrooms, salad greens, peas and asparagus to the local schools.

Ask your kids about these foods. Offer them at home. We’ve taken care of the first taste for you. Just offer them 11 more times and you might just create a veggie lover!


Hollis Dunbar is a Jesuit Volunteer Corps AmeriCorps Member, serving with OSU Extension, Gorge Grown Food Network, FISH food bank and The Next Door Inc.

Baked kale chips


1 bunch kale

1 tablespoon oil

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon garlic powder


Preheat an oven to 325 degrees.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or spray lightly with oil.

Wash kale under cool running water.

With a knife, kitchen shears or your hands carefully remove the leaves from the thick stems and tear into bite-size pieces.

Drizzle kale with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning and salt.

Bake until the edges just start to brown but are not burnt; about 10-15 minutes.

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