The Trouble With Swiss Chard

No one likes it. The people who say they like it are snobby yuppies who belong to a CSA, and trade recipes like Portugese Kale Soup, and take home bushels and bushels of Swiss Chard, and Kale and Collard Greens (people actually do like collard greens. They mostly live in the South). They say they like swiss chard, but they're only fibbing to look impressive to their neighbours. I bet it mostly goes on the compost heap because, I swear to God, that's where I'm putting my Swiss chard.
I say my swiss chard, but it really belongs to my office. I work for a food pantry, and it's always been a concern as to how to make nutritious food more accessible. We stock canned fruits and vegetables, but they're awfully high in sodium and sugar. The canned corn tastes fine, but canned peas and canned grean beans taste rubbery and go this bizarre, unappetising shade of green.
So, for the second year in a row, we've contracted to receive fresh produce from Poughkeepsie Farm Project. We have a full fledged share in the CSA, and they deliver a good amount of veggies to us once a week. The brocoli, lettuce and cucumbers were really popular. The beets have been languishing, but I have vague plans to pickle them and hopefully make them more palatable to our clientele.
The swiss chard, however, has been distinctly unloved. We've had it for about two weeks now. In the same orange bin, the level staying constant. People pick it up asking me if it's rhubarb. When I say, "no, that's Swiss chard," they wrinkle their noses in confusion and say, "what do you do with it?"
Honestly, I have no idea.
My suggestions, though, included, making a lasanga with it, pan cooking it with some olive oil, lemon juice and onion; basically using it wherever you would use spinach. But my clients always tend to look a little dubious and put it back in the box.
I tried everything I could think of last summer to create a demand for all these weird looking greens. I made signs that asked clients to take only two handfuls per person. I made signs that said, "get it while it lasts!" I made a little drawing of super swiss chard, and listed all the wonderful things it does nutritionally. Still, people remain baffled, almost distrustful of it.
No one likes swiss chard.
To be honest, I don't blame them. One afternoon last summer I commented on how people don't like swiss chard to my mother. "Well, that's wrong!" she replied.
This to me has the conotation that my clients are ignorant savages who haven't been educated enough about nutrition, and also a certain mentality of beggars can't be choosers. This is the mentality that enables people to donate half-eaten boxes of cereal, or expired boxes of pasta. It's insulting. Besides, what's wrong with not liking swiss chard? I don't like kale, and no one has ever said to me, "oh, well, you just don't know any better."
No, they respect that and don't force me to eat kale.
We're all aware that green = healthy, fresh = better than canned. Besides, organic, local produce shouldn't be a luxury. But nor should it mean one has to eat something one doesn't like, just because it's "good" for you. And what are the guidelines of goodness, anyway?
Plant spinach instead.


  1. Perhaps you could find a couple of recipes that you like Swiss Chard in, and copy them. Then put a stack of the recipes next to the Swiss Chard. That might help you get rid of it.

  2. One day I was walking home from the community garden with a large beautiful bowl of fresh picked strawberries. A group of teenagers saw them and asked "what are those?"
    I replied,"what do they look like?" and they genuinely didn't recognise them. Strawberries, as far as they were concerned, were gigantic red things that come in plastic boxes in climate controlled grocery stores. People know how to cook, I've tried the recipe idea; they DON'T know Swiss Chard, and that makes them all the more reluctant to take it. Spinach they recognise, asnd just about any swiss chard recipe could have spinach substituted.


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