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On your mark, get set ... EAT KALE!

Move over chicken wings, hot dogs and hamburgers. The first Taste of Buffalo eating competition next weekend will be decidedly more healthy – if not quite as delectable.

Professional eaters will compete for the Kale Cup.

“Kale Yeah! The World’s Healthiest Eating Championship,” will take place at 2 p.m. July 9 on the steps of City Hall. Ranked Major League Eating competitors Eric “Badlands” Booker, Carmen Cincotti and “Buffalo” Jim Reeves are among eight scheduled contestants who will have eight minutes eat as much kale salad as possible.


Kale may taste a bit bitter but is packed with healthy vitamins and minerals. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News file photo)

Joe’s Deli, with two locations in the city, will blend 40 pounds of kale, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper for the green battle; $4,000 in prizes is up for grabs.

Taste of Buffalo organizers for the last decade have required event vendors to include at least one healthy food option during the annual event. The Independent Health Foundation Healthy Options program works with the vendors and will host the competition – a first in the 33-year history of the Taste.

“We wanted to do something unique to draw more attention to healthy options at the Taste of Buffalo,” said Carrie Meyer, executive director of the Independent Health Foundation. “We work with Gelia advertising on the event and one of their reps asked, ‘Do you do an eating competition?’ And we decided, ‘What better place to do an eating competition at the Taste of Buffalo?’”

Why kale?

“It’s really trendy today,” Meyer said. “People are intrigued by it. More and more people are eating it. In a 100 gram serving, raw kale provides 49 calories and is a rich source of vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin K. Kale is also a good source of vitamin B6 and several dietary minerals, including iron, calcium, potassium and phosphorus.”

The foundation also will offer cash prizes to the top three restaurants offering the best-tasting, healthy dishes.

This year’s Taste of Buffalo will offer more than 250 items to sample from 62 restaurants and food trucks, six wineries and several regional breweries – the largest field ever for the event. It runs from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. next Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. July 10 in and around Niagara Square.

The 716 food truck will make a kale bistro salad available as its healthy option for Taste visitors, Meyer said. The Healthy Options booth will feature a kitchen where fest-goers can learn how to make fruits and vegetables more fun and enticing, particularly for kids.

“People think eating healthy has to be yogurts and salads, and that’s not the case,” Meyer said. “This year at the Taste of Buffalo we have cedar-grilled lemon chicken, pulled pork, fish tacos, soups. There’s white pizza. There’s even Tandoori chicken wings. There’s a lot that can be eating prepared in a different fashion, slightly modified.”

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Twitter: @BNrefresh, @ScottBScanlon


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