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McDonald's is testing-out a new ingredient - kale. For the time being, it's just on the menu in Southern California. Kale is being blended into a new McDonald's breakfast bowl served with turkey sausage and egg whites. NPR's food and health correspondent Allison Aubrey reports on whether the good-for-you halo that hovers over kale might bring a healthy glow to the golden arches.
ALLISON AUBREY, BYLINE: A few months back, McDonald's was showing no love for kale. In this ad, which promotes the beefiness of the Big Mac, the chain was really poking fun.
(SOUNDBITE OF MCDONALD'S AD)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: All vegetarians, foodies and gastronauts, kindly avert your eyes.
AUBREY: The camera zooms-in on the double patty Big Mac.
(SOUNDBITE OF MCDONALD'S AD)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: You can't get juiciness like this from soy or quinoa, nor will that ever be kale.
AUBREY: So how could kale, which is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet, go from being scorned by the burger chain to being loved a few months later? Well, the chain has said that it's always interested in innovating when the time is right and McDonalds' sales have been dropping. David Just of Cornell University studies food psychology and economics.
DAVID JUST: I think it is a bit of an about-face but it's - I mean, I think it's a measured about-face.
AUBREY: Just says McDonald's is in a tricky spot. It cannot alienate its Big Mac crowd.
JUST: You don't want to offend your main customer, right?
AUBREY: But he says the chain must also realize it cannot turn-off so many people, either.
JUST: They've got to recognize there are a lot of people who really, you know, don't see themselves as the mainline McDonald's customer at this point, don't want that style of food.
AUBREY: So perhaps the introduction of kale could be an olive branch to the growing ranks of health-conscious eaters.
JUST: You've got to at least have them willing to walk into the store.
AUBREY: Now, it's not likely that kale will ever be a top seller at McDonald's, but Drew Ramsey, a physician who launched a movement for a national kale day several years back, says that's OK.
DREW RAMSEY: At the end of the day, if kale is at McDonald's more people are going to be exposed to it and more people are going to try it, and that's a good thing for health.
AUBREY: As people discover kale, Ramsey says, they're often surprised. It's a little sweet, it's pretty affordable and they might decide to buy some at the grocery store.
RAMSEY: Kale should be a stable of the diet.
AUBREY: But for now, you can try kale salads at nine McDonald's locations in Southern California. Allison Aubrey, NPR News.
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