Rick Bayless

Why kale is everywhere: How food trends are born

Why kale is everywhere: How food trends are born

Kale has had quite a run.

Less than a decade ago, the leafy green vegetable was used primarily for decoration on salad bars. Now kale, known for its health benefits, is so ubiquitous that even McDonald's uses it in salads. There are kale chips and kale crackers. And its appearance on Midwestern restaurant menus has soared nearly 1,300 percent over the last four years, according to Datassential, a Chicago-based food data firm.

Za'atar, a Middle Eastern spice blend, may not be as familiar to many Americans, but it plays a starring role in one of the salads Starbucks recently rolled out in Chicago as part of its new lunch menu. As Americans increasingly demand exotic flavors,...

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