Americans Are Fed Up With Nasty Lettuce

Kimberly Vardeman (CC BY 2.0)

“I can’t eat the lettuce, and that’s a problem, and I’ve told them. They’re just not listening.”

– Subway franchisee on having to serve week-old lettuce (Business Insider, 12.22.17)

No more wedge salad | 

America has lost its appetite for iceberg lettuce | 

Oct 13, 2020

Bloomberg – It is quite possible 2020 will be remembered as a turning point in American history, a moment after which the country became irretrievably different from what it had been before.

Yes, that’s right, this could be the year consumption of romaine and other leaf lettuce finally surpasses that of head lettuce, which is mostly iceberg lettuce.

Then again, it might not be. The 2019 data, released in September, actually show lettuce heads doing slightly better against lettuce leaves than in 2017 and 2018 (ahead by 0.3 pounds instead of 0.1).

Perhaps New Yorker magazine food correspondent Helen Rosner’s August 2018 manifesto, “It’s Time to Admit That Iceberg Is a Superior Lettuce,” turned the tide …

Image: iwaspoinsoned.com

Still, it’s been quite the comedown over the past three decades for America’s lettuce, introduced by seed purveyor W. Atlee Burpee & Co. in 1894.

The standard explanation is that the great American food awakening that began in 1961 with the publication of Julia Child and Simone Beck’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” and Craig Claiborne’s “The New York Times Cookbook” led to an embrace of lettuces and other greens more flavorful and less watery than what filmmaker John Waters once called “the polyester of greens … ”

Or as Nora Ephron put it in a 2006 New Yorker recounting of her cooking experiences, “arugula was discovered” in the mid-1960s, which was followed by endive, which was followed by radicchio, which was followed by frisée, which was followed by the three M’s—mesclun, mache, and microgreens—and that, in a nutshell, is the history of the past forty years from the point of view of lettuce.

That history is not inaccurate, at least from the perspective of a Manhattan gourmet. But head lettuce consumption actually didn’t peak nationally until 1989 … Read more. 

Image: iwaspoisoned.com

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