August 24, 2015

Let's hate lettuce.

"It occupies precious crop acreage, requires fossil fuels to be shipped, refrigerated, around the world, and adds nothing but crunch to the plate," says the currently most-read article at The Washington Post.
Salad vegetables are pitifully low in nutrition. 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.

In July, when I wrote a piece defending corn on the calories-per-acre metric, a number of people wrote to tell me I was ignoring nutrition. Which I was. Not because nutrition isn’t important, but because we get all the nutrition we need in a fraction of our recommended daily calories, and filling in the rest of the day’s food is a job for crops like corn. But if you think nutrition is the most important metric, don’t direct your ire at corn. Turn instead to lettuce....

Lettuce is a vehicle to transport refrigerated water from farm to table....
Lettuce has nothing going for it. But — I'd caution — don't undervalue nothing. Nothing is a lot. It's more than everything that's worse than nothing. Chewing on lettuce might keep you from eating something fattening (like corn)(though it might lure you into eating something that would have no appeal were it not for lettuce's insidious cry for dressing).

But if your concern is not managing your calories — or, as some commenters point out, pooping —  and you care about the environment, the author is right. You should not — unless you grow your own — be eating lettuce. It's water.
A head of iceberg lettuce has the same water content as a bottle of Evian (1-liter size: 96 percent water, 4 percent bottle) and is only marginally more nutritious.
And don't drink bottled water either. Drink tap water. Lots and lots of tap water. And pray for the forgiveness of your sins.

47 comments:

Will Cate said...

...as well as those who sin against us.

MPH said...

I've only got two minutes.

David Begley said...

And it all comes back to fossil fuels. To the Left, fossil fuels are the root of ALL evil.
They believe that fact when the jet to the south of France and rent a Mercedes for their two week foreign vacation.

David said...

Lettuce also keeps you from filling the refrigerator with something else that might be bad for you, and it composts nicely when you fail to use it before it spoils.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

There's a thing going on now about how Coca-Cola is buying scientists to run interference in the War Against Sugary Drinks. Set up some kind of an "institute." Part of the strategy seems to be to get the meme out there that kids can consume all the empty calories they want so long as they run it off.

You'll know that Big Soda is on the ropes when they start pitching the idea that a chubby kid is a healthy kid.

I should have been a gym teacher.

sinz52 said...

Today's environmentalists just don't like the human race. They blame it for having ravaged the Earth and upset the planet's ecological balance.

So they just keep coming up with more and more restrictions on what humans can do. Their real goal is to put Homo Sapiens in a box that can't harm their precious planet.

Tank said...

Who buys or eats iceberg lettuce?

I like lettuce more for my sandwich, than for my salad. It adds a certain texture that I find enjoyable to eat. To the extent that they have to ship it to my store, and some guy has to pick it, and some guy has to pack it, and some guy has to truck it, and some guy has to display it, and some guy has to check me out at the store, well, I feel pretty good about providing jobs for those guys. I like fossil fuels, they make many good things possible for the poor and middle (the rich will always live well). We should use our fuels wisely.

Phil 3:14 said...

Good for Sandwiches, good for Yuma.

Paco Wové said...

"To the Left, fossil fuels are the root of ALL evil."

And the profit motive. Don't forget profit!

David said...

Tank said...
Who buys or eats iceberg lettuce?


Me. Though more often I buy it and let it rot in the refrigerator.

Hagar said...

Eating lettuce will also make your ears grow long.

MikeR said...

Absolutely nuts. Iceberg lettuce is a major part of my diet. I eat it at lunch with some cheddar cheese and salsa, and almost a whole bag of lettuce. It's tasty, it fills me up, and has no calories. I could use something more nourishing like Romaine lettuce or broccoli, but I don't much need the vitamins and what I really need is to feel full till dinner without calories.

Jane the Actuary said...

The principle of favoring foods with high calorie density is great for an earlier era in which being underweight was the worry. Now, lettuce makes perfect sense precisely for its scant calories, as a way for people to feel full while having consumed relatively few calories. Of course, drown it in high-calorie dressing and you've lost that benefit, but the world has changed, nonetheless.

MadisonMan said...

The salad of a quarter of a head of iceberg lettuce drizzled with blue cheese and bacon is surprisingly good.

dbp said...

The resources wasted on big lettuce could instead be used to meet the urgent salad dressing shortage.

Meade said...

Here's a test: Say you want a BLT sandwich but you only have 1 of the the 3 ingredients. A BBB? Sure. A TTT? Okay. But an LLL. No way! Might as well have a glass of water and a crust of bread and send yourself to bed early.

traditionalguy said...

Eat mor Romaine.

Brando said...

Can't say I'm a big lettuce fan, but it is often necessary for a number of key roles: bacon bits delivery system, holder of Caesar salads together, added roughage for burgers and sandwiches--hell, do we really want to get rid of one third of the famous BLT?

If we allow the market a greater role in determining what farmers grow, they'll meet our consumption needs just fine. If we want more corn based products, they'll grow more corn. If we want more wheat, ditto for wheat. It's only when busybodies try and fudge the system with subsidies and environmental rules that we distort things and have to figure out why there are shortages.

Brando said...

Besides, if we have to get rid of something, how about beets, or cauliflower? Those veggies suck!

I'm partial to the potato myself--without it we'd have no chips, french fries, vodka, baked potatoes, vodka, mashed potatoes, or vodka.

Mrs Whatsit said...

Here's a sensible comment on this silly article posted by one "busterbang7" at 9:22 AM EST:

As a retired surgeon who has had to perform thousands of colo-rectal surgeries as a consequence of the refined American diet, I can attest to the fact that this author’s advice is ill-informed at best and dangerous at worst. Health is not just a matter of calories or “nutrients;” it is about physiology. Most “health writers” do not have a clue about physiology of the gastrointestinal system. Examples of the consequences of a low fiber diet include (to name a few) colorectal cancer, diverticular disease, irritable bowel syndrome, polyps, hemorrhoids, fissures, fistula-in-ano, and so forth.

Scott said...

Coca-Cola has 240 calories in a 20 oz. bottle. So it must be more moral than lettuce.

Big Mike said...

Leave it to the Washington Post to be pushing junk science.

M Jordan said...

Jesus: What goes into someone's mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.

Me: To hell with food police of every kind.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Raw spinach won't let you down. Well, unless it's tainted with listeria.

I'm disappointed no one has looped illegal immigration/migrant farmers into this discussion yet. 2013 NPR story on shortage of lettuce harvesters & need for automation

Scott said...

btw I'm still following Joel Furhman MD's "nutrarian" way of eating, as explained in his book Eat to Live. Basically it's making salad the central part of your daily eating, eating fruits, cutting back on animal protein and milk products, and eating foods made with sugar and flour as little as possible. I've lost about 15 pounds slowly, and my A1C blood glucose is much better.

Humperdink said...

I switched from lettuce to cold spinach for my salads some time ago. Add some green olives, tomatoes and ranch dressing and I'm good to go.

Peter said...

A BLT without the L is just not a BLT.

Annie said...

Red leaf, green leaf, and romaine lettuces are the way to go. More nutritional value than iceberg, and a nice dose of fiber.

If you are feeding your guinea pig his daily cup of salad (vit. C source), be aware romaine has some calcium. (cavies are prone to stones)

Beach Brutus said...

Iceberg Lettuce is the canvas on which a salad is painted.

Bob Boyd said...

Imagine there's no lettuce.
Its easy if you try.
No heads a growin'
No salad bar to try.
Imagine only corn chips
providing crunch today.
Woo hoo hoo ooo ooo oohoo.

MadisonMan said...

A BLT is a lot better if you sub out the L for Basil.

Gahrie said...

Solyent Green is the solution.

jimbino said...

Lettuce at least breathes out oxygen while it's growing, doesn't take 21 years to maturity of costly feeding and educating with other peoples' money and then enter a world already overpopulated by lettuce.

William said...

This is the devil's handiwork. He built an extensive series of chambers for all those people who ate meat on Friday and, then, the Vatican cut the legs out from under him. Rather than get stuck with a lot of useless dungeons, Satan has moved into the politically correct food business. This opens vast new fields of sin and damnation. If you can condemn people for eating lettuce, think what terrors you visit on those who eat fried chicken.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

You need lettuce in order to eat blue cheese dressing.

Jupiter said...

"One of the people I heard from about nutrition is organic consultant Charles Benbrook."

"organic consultant". What a grotesque concept. Apparently, this person makes his living by peddling his extensive knowledge of a totally spurious subject.

tim in vermont said...

I happen to like lettuce. I never used to, but I think it has to do with a phenomenon you blogged not too long ago about peoples taste buds aging to the point where they started enjoying vegetables because they couldn't taste the bitterness anymore. So if I like eating it with a little oil, vinegar, salt, and other fresh vegetables, then it has value.

You know who was big into "scientific feeding"? Elena Ceausescu. How did she die?

The Ceaușescus were executed by a gathering of soldiers: Captain Ionel Boeru, Sergeant-Major Georghin Octavian and Dorin-Marian Cîrlan,[25] while reportedly hundreds of others also volunteered. The firing squad began shooting as soon as the two were in position against a wall. A TV crew who were to film the execution only managed to catch the end of it as the Ceaușescus lay on the ground shrouded by dust kicked up by the bullets striking the wall and ground. Before his sentence was carried out, Nicolae Ceaușescu sang "The Internationale" while being led up against the wall. After the shooting, the bodies were covered with canvas.

tim in vermont said...

Lettuce at least breathes out oxygen while it's growing, doesn't take 21 years to maturity of costly feeding and educating with other peoples' money and then enter a world already overpopulated by lettuce. -jimbino

We get it jimbino. You want us all to stop having children so that Hispanics can take over our country, since they are better climate citizens. We get it. There should be no cats pooping on your property either, you will never need a nurse or a doctor when you are old, or anybody to grow your food because you are 100% self sustaining. It has been said that "no man is an island," that we are all "a piece of the continent, a part of the main" but that person had never met you jimbino!

Henry said...

A head of iceberg lettuce has the same water content as a bottle of Evian (1-liter size: 96 percent water, 4 percent bottle) and is only marginally more nutritious.

A liter bottle of Evian costs $2.67 ($16 six pack at Amazon).

A head of lettuce costs $1.99 (Peapod).

Clearly there's a market here. Get your hydration for 68 cents less.

Scott said...

Everything you ever want to know about hydration can be found at The Coca-Cola Company's Beverage Institute for Health & Wellness.

Please stop laughing, this is serious.

Sigivald said...

Lettuce is delicious.

That's all the justification it needs.

(Much like all the justification a ribeye needs is the same.)

Sigivald said...

Lettuce is delicious.

That's all the justification it needs.

(Much like all the justification a ribeye needs is the same.)

SGT Ted said...

"It occupies precious crop acreage, requires fossil fuels to be shipped, refrigerated, around the world, and adds nothing but crunch to the plate,"

These people just need to STFU already.

Dale said...

Just who the fuck are the people that get to tell us what we can and can't eat? Fuck them and their dictatorial control efforts. And every mother fucker that agrees with them.

Birches said...

Isn't lettuce and other water based vegetables good for the diet because of the "roughage" factor?

Brian McKim & Traci Skene said...

How come we can condemn something (lettuce) when it uses up a certain (disproportionate, according to critics) amount of fossil fuels, but we can't praise something (the internet, Amazon, Kindle and a thousand other things) when they effectively save us from using billions of gallons of fossil fuels (and save our roads from wear and tear in the process)?

Selective outrage. It's what's for dinner!

sean said...

Charles Murray (I think it was) had a funny piece a while back about how sixty years ago, the average UMC person would have thought that choices about sexual conduct had a moral dimension, but would not have remotely considered the possibility that choices about eating had such a dimension. Today, those perspectives are reversed.

Prof. Althouse actually has a high degree of self-awareness for a university professor (a profession not known for its regard for either of the Delhic mottoes), but even she is basically a creature of her time and place, who has thoroughly absorbed the ethos Murray described.