The Current

Is salad a luxury food? One writer argues it's time to rethink leafy greens

If you hate eating your vegetables, you may be off the hook — at least when it comes to lettuce. One writer argues salad is hard on the environment, and isn't all that nutritious.

It's a resource-intensive crop that isn't very nutritious, says writer Tamar Haspel

A worker harvests romaine lettuce in Salinas, Calif. on Aug. 16, 2007. (Paul Sakuma/Associated Press)

Read Story Transcript

If you hate eating your greens, you may be off the hook — at least when it comes to lettuce.

"It's not a particularly nutritious vegetable," says Tamar Haspel, a food and science writer who has written for the Washington Post about why salad is overrated.

"I don't think we should stop eating salad, but I think maybe we should start thinking about it as a resource-intensive, and maybe a luxury food."

With more people going hungry as the world's population increases, Haspel told The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti that using valuable crop acreage to grow a vegetable like lettuce may not be the best idea.

That's because lettuce is made up mostly of water and isn't particularly nutritious, she argued.

Meanwhile, consumers in Canada and the U.S. are being warned to stay away from romaine lettuce, as officials believe it could be linked to a string of E. coli cases that has made 19 people in Canada sick.

Canadian and U.S. officials are advising people not to buy romaine lettuce until they can find the source of E. coli contamination, but have not issued a blanket recall. (Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press)

Haspel said she doesn't want people to be afraid of lettuce.

"But maybe think about adding some other variations into your rotation," she said. "Think about those other leafy greens. Think about what you can do with kale, or chard, or mustard greens, or... collards are my favourite, and mix it up a little bit."

To talk about whether or not salad is overrated, Tremonti talked to:

  • Bill Marler, a lawyer who specializes in food safety.​
  • Tamar Haspel, a food and science writer who farms oysters in Cape Cod, Mass.

Click 'listen' near the top of this page to hear the full conversation.

Produced by The Current's Julie Crysler and Danielle Carr.


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