ACME — Alex Pineau smiles as he sifts through pictures on his cellphone. He finds the shot, facing his phone out with a “proud Papa” smile.
“Our first palette of kale chips,” he said. “Shipped downstate last week.”
Commercial shipping boxes tower high in Evergreen Market’s storeroom.
Pineau, 29, gestures to a wall that needs to go. They’re processing 1,000 pounds of kale a month and are running out of room for their kale chips.
“We are moving full steam ahead,” Pineau said. Or rather, full “air drier” ahead, as Pineau attributes Evergreen Market’s success to the way they turn kale’s thick greens into crispy, crumbly chips. Alex Pineau co-owns the market with his father, Paul Pineau, 60, and they custom-designed drying equipment to maximize nutrition and flavor without the bitter aftertaste common to kale chips.
“Everyone says ‘yours taste so much better than mine at home,’” Alex Pineau said. “That’s because most everyone bakes theirs.”
The Pineaus opened the farm market five years ago on the family property — the house lies just beyond the hill.
A large garden surrounds the market — most everything above the snow is shriveled and brown —but stalks of hearty kale poke through, its leaves still green after one of the longest, coldest and snowiest winters in recent memory.
Kale is a smart horse to back in northern Michigan, joked Paul Pineau. He farms lavender and collects morel mushrooms.
Kale is also a great Cinderella story. Farmers grew the hearty kale mostly to line and garnish supermarket vegetable displays. But after a few celebrity endorsements — the antioxidant-rich green is naturally low-cal and packed with vitamins — kale was crowned “queen” of the cruciferous. One chopped cup contains more than 100 percent of the recommended daily dose of vitamin C, 206 percent of vitamin A and 684 percent of vitamin K.