At the beginning of 2017 I took over the operation of a pay-what-you-can vegan lunch café here in the heart of meat-and-potatoes Midwest America. On December first, I gave myself a daily blogging challenge to write about this café, to tell its story, and maybe figure out a little of my own story in the process. This is Post #26.

Every Sunday I make the rounds of my local grocery stores and markets, gathering what I need for the week’s meals. It’s almost all supermarket food right now; only one of my regular local farms is growing for the cold season, keeping their greens going in long caterpillar tunnels.

This past fall they started offering broccoli greens. Big deep green leaves that I like so much more than the more familiar kale and collards. They’re very tender, unlike kale, which can be a little toothy. They cook up quickly, like spinach, without the massive spinach shrinkage. And they’re sweet like chard, without the crazy high price of chard. What’s not to love?

Have you ever seen a broccoli plant? It’s big. The leaves comprise most of it, and they’re impressive, dwarfing the clustered flower head that we think of as broccoli. They make up 75% of the plant, and yet we never see them in stores. Do they just get left in the field, plowed under after harvest? Maybe they end up as animal fodder, or as those bits of greens I see when I open a can of fancy “with greens and sauce” cat food for our trio of cats at home.

I read somewhere that broccoli greens are a trending food for 2018. Soon they’ll be all over Pinterest, replacing kale, which we’re all tired of anyway. For a minute, though, we’re trendy, right here at our little café in flyover country.

As a friend once said, out beyond the fringe, there lies the cutting edge.