2016 featured local foods for institutions

The Cultivate Michigan campaign encourages schools and hospitals to add these foods to their menus this year.

Cultivate Michigan is a two year-old campaign managed by the Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems and the Ecology Center in partnership with many stakeholder organizations, including Michigan State University Extension. The purpose of the campaign is to increase the amount of Michigan grown and processed foods on the menus of PK-12 schools, colleges, universities and hospitals. The campaign does this by developing purchasing guides and marketing tools to help these institutions purchase, prepare and serve four seasonal foods each year. The campaign recently released the 2016 foods. They are: kale for spring, carrots for summer, potatoes in the fall, and dried/frozen cherries in the winter. The Cultivate Michigan kale product guide and marketing tools will be released in early 2016. 

Kale is one of the healthiest vegetables. Kale’s nutrient richness stands out in antioxidant nutrients, anti-inflammatory nutrients and anti-cancer nutrients. Kale is an excellent source for vitamin K, which is a key ingredient in controlling inflammation. Kale also provides a valuable support for lowering cholesterol. The high fiber content of kale includes seven grams of fiber per 100 calories, which is a great support for the digestive system. 

Michigan State University Extension recommends selecting kale with firm, deep colored leaves and moist, hardy stems. Kale should be kept in a cool environment since warm temperatures will cause it to wilt. The leaves should look fresh and not be wilted, with no signs of browning, yellow or small holes. The smaller sized leaves will be more tender and have a milder flavor. Store kale in plastic storage bags with as much of the air removed as possible. It can be stored in the refrigerator without washing for about five days. The exposure to water encourages faster spoilage. 

If you would like to add kale to your menu, consider combining chopped kale, pine nuts and feta cheese with whole grain pasta drizzled with olive oil. Enjoy kale in a breakfast smoothie by adding a half-cup of chopped kale with fruit and one cup of milk or yogurt. For more recipe ideas, check out the Michigan Fresh Pinterest boards

Institutions interested in the Cultivate Michigan product guides and marketing tools should join the campaign today! 

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