Planting For The Future
By Judy Baehr
Avoiding the Well-Traveled Lettuce
In this hot dry season, lettuces often arrive at our stores warm and tired and somewhat wilted and smelling funny, just like all of us. I often think of those crates of lettuce tooling down the road singing “Five hundred miles, 500 miles, I am 500 miles away from home.” Or possibly more; in the U.S. and Canada, lettuce travels as much as 2,400 miles.
What’s more, a trip from Guadalajara can make a lettuce just as tired, hot, wilted and nutrient-deprived as a longer trip, if it’s made in an un-air-conditioned truck. Avoid these well-traveled lettuces. If you shop at the ACÁ organic farm, you’ll find Marie and Wendee are the only things looking tired and wilted there, from working to provide you with fresh lettuce.
A bed of ACÁ Great Greens is an easy start to dinner if you wash the greens ahead of time. Recent studies show oxygen depletes nutritional value, so store the greens in a container or baggie with as little air as possible and a paper towel to absorb extra moisture.
This is not as good as getting the greens fresh off the farm and washing and eating them the same day. You lose a little vitamin content by preparing them ahead of time, but this is still a lot better than not having salad because you are too tired and hot to bother, and the local greens are cool, crisp and tasty.
Keep a squeeze bottle with olive oil and vinegar to shake and squirt on a salad when you want a really fast meal. Homemade dressing is high in Omega 3 fatty acids from the olive oil and has no preservatives. A little goes a long way, so calories are not excessive.
Along with fresh meat, fish, cheese and/or eggs from the refrigerator, you can add fresh pepper, herbs, capers, olives—whatever comes to hand. (If you’re serving the salad with shrimp, I accept dinner invitations.) To paraphrase Peg Bracken in her I Hate to Cook Book (a book I refer to often), “Serve it with good bread and butter, and it looks like dinner.”
Find ACÁ’s Great Greens daily at the Lake Chapala Society or stop at the ACÁ demonstration farm and Eco Center in Jaltepec (M-F 9-5, Sat 9-1).
See the Lake Chapala Society bulletin board for upcoming Eco Talks and trips, or go to www.greatgreens.org.