Wash Your Own Damned Lettuce {Budget Organic No. 2}

Wash Your Own Damned Lettuce {Budget Organic No. 2}

A few years back, some close friends of mine were getting married, and while over for dinner at our house one night, they asked me what was the best thing I had registered for when I got married.

I thought about it for a moment and said, “Well, aside from all my dishes and stuff, I really love my salad spinner. It’s the kind of thing I wouldn’t have bought for myself, but I’ve really loved having one.”

There was a pause.  Then the guy said, “What’s a salad spinner?”

And his fiancee turned to him and said, “It’s for washing lettuce.”

More confused looks.

“If you buy, like, a head of lettuce.  Not salad in a bag, like we buy.”

I had to LOL a bit (love you H & J!).  The concept of washing lettuce was totally foreign to them, but so was the concept of buying it with all the leaves still attached to one another. If you’re in the same boat, you should really try to step away from the bags, because sustainable eating tip number two is…

salad spinner

Forgo bagged salad (and other veggies)

Pre-washed and pre-cut greens are one of the miracles of modern society, it’s true. Let me just tell you that pre-washed collard greens and pre-cut butternut squash changed my life—truefax! (I hate all the sand in collards and the big knife necessary for the dismemberment of a butternut scares me.)

But here’s the other fact: all that extra packaging isn’t great, or very sustainable.  And, when things are pre-chopped, you also have to consider what gets left behind.

Pause for a second here: Do you know the dirty secret behind baby carrots?  They’re lying about their age.  They’re not really babies, they’re full-sized adult carrots that are cut and whittled down to size.  All those whittlings?  Get tossed.  And probably not composted.

Plus, we’re paying for the convenience.  The next time you’re at the store, grab a bag of pre-washed salad greens and a head of lettuce; weigh them and compare the price per ounce.  BIG, huge difference.  Eschewing packaged veggies is a great tactic when you’re trying to save money on organics.

And, the thing is, when we buy these “convenience” products, we’re really just distancing ourselves even further from the foods we eat. We don’t know how to prepare foods from their raw state.  If we don’t know how to wash them, cut them, prepare them—how likely are we to eat them?

The best thing to do is to buy your produce as close to its original form as possible.  Buy your lettuce as heads (and not “Romaine hearts” that have all the outer leaves already pulled off), and with the roots still attached if possible.  Buy your carrots and beets with the greens still attached—and then use them up in other recipes. Get over your fear of the big knife (Lacy!) and buy the whole squash.

But here’s my big but: If buying pre-cut and pre-washed veggies is the difference between you actually EATING those veggies and, you know, not, then by all means, buy the pre-cut veggies.  It’s OK to work up to buying and eating whole veggies; it’s more important just to eat them.

Will you pledge to give up one pre-washed or pre-cut veggie? Then take action now! Leave me a comment and make your pledge below!

I’m challenging myself to eat more sustainably over the next year—and documenting the steps I take in this series, inspired by an article in the Jul/Aug 2010 issue of Whole Living Magazine.  Want to join me?  Leave a comment below and pledge to eat more sustainably this year!

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