Carst and Walker
Skip salad

Save the planet, skip the salad!

There’s one food that has almost nothing going for it. It occupies precious crop acreage, requires fossil fuels to be shipped, refrigerated, around the world, and adds nothing but crunch to the plate. It’s salad, and there are several reasons why we need to rethink it….

In an delightfully interesting article, Tamar Haspel, a food columnist for the Washington Post, suggests we need to start thinking of salad a little differently.

Salad vegetables are low in nutrition, Haspel says, referring to a nutrient quality index — a way to rate foods based on how much of 27 nutrients they contain — that has found that four of the five lowest-ranking vegetables (by serving size) are salad ingredients: cucumbers, radishes, iceberg lettuce and celery (the fifth is eggplant).

Those foods’ nutritional profile can be partly explained by one simple fact: They’re almost all water. Although water figures prominently in just about every vegetable (the sweet potato, one of the least watery, is 77 percent), those four salad vegetables top the list at 95 to 97 percent water. A head of iceberg lettuce has the same water content as a bottle of Evian (1-litre size: 96 percent water, 4 percent bottle) and is only marginally more nutritious.

A bigger issue, though, she says is this: “Lettuce is a vehicle to transport refrigerated water from farm to table. When we switch to vegetables that are twice as nutritious — like collards or tomatoes or green beans — not only do we free up half the acres now growing lettuce, we cut back on the fossil fuels and other resources needed for transport and storage.

“The biggest thing wrong with salads is lettuce, and the biggest thing wrong with lettuce is that it’s a leafy-green waste of resources.”

Furthermore, she argues, in the US salad and other leafy greens are the top source of food waste for vegetables, and also the chief culprit for foodborne illnesses.

Haspel says that if we switched to more nutritious vegetables like tomatoes or green beans, we could free up the acres given to lettuce, reduce our usage of fossil fuels and the resources needed for transport and storage.

So save the planet, eat better and safer, skip the salad… [Do read this outstanding article! Ed]

Washington Post: Read the full article

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