Abuse in the Produce Aisle

A young lettuce grows in our garden
thanks to mild winter temperatures.

Yesterday, Punxsutawney Phil declared six more weeks of winter.  While I love winter, that groundhog ruined my otherwise beautiful day.  Do you know how long its been since we’ve had fresh lettuce?  I could buy lettuce from the grocery store.  But I won’t.  The poor things that land in produce aisle make me want to weep.  They’re sad and exhausted from their commute.  They’ve traveled hundreds (if not thousands) of miles.  Then to add insult to their already injuried souls, they are constantly blasted with cold water to maintain their freshness.  No wonder so much of it gets recalled.  For me, its abuse in the produce aisle.  My beloved has advised me to stay away from the grocery; as one of these days, I’ll accuse Kroger of waterboarding their spinach.  (He’s not joking.)

I could have a salad anytime I wanted from either a fast food chain or restaurant.  But like their cousins at the grocery, that lettuce has traveled many miles before landing on my plate.  Many restaurants use a chemical wash to help remove bacterial contaminates, because apparently water isn’t good enough. That chemical wash only guarantees a gastric nighmare.  Feeling bloated? Order a salad.  Your problems will soon be resolved.

If you think that you don’t like salad or lettuce, I have to wonder if you’ve ever tasted real lettuce?  Lettuce grown in your backyard tastes crisp and crunchy.  Its favor explodes in your mouth like the opening chords of an Scorpions anthem.  It. Will. Rock. You.

Although ole’ Punxsutawney Phil says otherwise, the weather in West Kentucky promises mild spring-like temperatures for the next few weeks. The winter weather has been so mild, a few of volunteer lettuces are growing in our garden.  Which is why I can’t stop arguing with myself about whether or not I should sneak a few seeds in the ground.  Just think, my family could be nibbling on fresh lettuce in a few weeks.  The practical left-brained gardener in me is constantly reminding me that we’re still 10 weeks from our frost free date.  Sowing seeds now is futile, it can (and probably will) snow in April and ruin the crop.  The artistic right-brained gardener in me says, “So? Let’s show that groundhog a thing or two!”

The solution?  Give in and start a few lettuce seeds now.  I’ll transfer them to containers when they’re big enough.  On chilly nights, I can bring them inside to protect my crop.  I know that I’ll be dragging those containers in and out for weeks.  But it will sooo be worth it.  I’ll still start my main crop in early March, but if I can successfully get a few heads to grow now?  Priceless. Who needs a groundhog anyway?

Want to know more about Punxsutawney Phil?

http://food-hub.org/files/resources/Food%20Miles.pdf

Learn About Growing Lettuce from Mother Earth News


Learn How to Wash Lettuce without a Spinner

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2 thoughts on “Abuse in the Produce Aisle

  1. LOL! I wish I didn't overlay human feelings onto the veggies in the produce aisle, but I can't help it. After nurturing baby plants in my own garden, it simply happens. Commercial produce reminds me of rejected beauty queens, all dressed up and hopping someone will take them home, where they can fulfill their destiny. And yet as consumers we are taught that lettuce is limp and tasteless. Americans expect, no demand, to purchase any veg or any fruit any time we want. But it simply doesn't work that way, does it? All food should be local, we should follow a seasonal diet. It's how humans are suppose to eat! After all, it worked for millions of years, right?

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