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Kohlrabi Kraze hits Yellowknife streets
Versatile vegetable takes city by storm

Meagan Leonard
Northern News Services
Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Those who were out and about this weekend might have caught a glimpse of two unique visitors making their way around the city.

NNSL photo/graphic

Karl and Kristina Kohlrabi visit Pilots Monument as part of their whirlwind tour of Yellowknife on Saturday. The vegetable mascots were set to finish their trip at the farmer's market on Tuesday night at an event that saw 500 pounds of the vegetables sold to residents and restaurateurs. - photo courtesy of Amy Lam

Karl and Kristina Kohlrabi were spotted at Pilots Monument, Bullocks Bistro, Government Dock and Sombe K'e Civic Plaza in preparation for their main event Tuesday night. Hosted by the Yellowknife Farmers Market, Kohlrabi Kraze was the organization's first initiative in support of the city's food charter and was set to see some 500 pounds of the vegetables put up for grabs.

High in vitamin C and antioxidants, kohlrabi looks like turnip, but is actually a type of cabbage. The taste is sweet, similar to broccoli stems and it can be eaten raw like an apple, chopped up in salads or roasted as a side dish. The kohlrabi were originally grown as part of the Indians Summers Market Gardens basket program in Hay River. Tamara Christen runs the initiative and said she grew the vegetables because they're ready relatively early and would add some variety to the somewhat bland produce baskets she hands out in June.

"In the beginning of the season you just have greens like lettuce, kale, radishes and spinach," she explained. "I wanted something different."

Turns out, kohlrabi is well suited for life in the North and her crop exploded.

"They grew really fast," she said, adding she could either feed the kohlrabi to pigs in the community or see if anyone else was interested in them. She approached Yellowknife Farmers Market president France Benoit who came up with the idea for a light-hearted promotion. Even before the event, Benoit said she had many pre-orders with chefs ordering in large amounts.

For regular market-goers, Benoit said they provided tips on how to prepare the vegetables and have recipes to try so people weren't scared off by the strange-looking cabbages.

"It almost looks like an alien spaceship," she quipped. "It's essentially to make people realize we can grow an awful lot of food here and we can trade between communities."

Leading up to the event, they painted faces on two kohlrabi, named them Karl and Kristina and toted them around the city offering passersby the chance to take photos with them. Overall, Benoit said the initiative was well received.

"It's such a funny looking vegetable, we wanted to play with that," she said.

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