Pet peeve in the produce section....

January 29, 2008

I have so many pet peeves when it comes to buying produce in the grocery store, but I think my biggest is buying lettuce. I don’t pretend not to know exactly why my expectations are so high: I’m incredibly spoiled because I have a large vegetable garden, and each year I can’t wait to plant and then harvest tender, buttery lettuces that my family enjoys.

So when the garden’s gone ka-put for the year, I actually start to panic about having to buy greens from the grocer! And here is why: It’s those darn water hoses that spray the leaves to death to “keep it fresh,” but actually ruin it! I’m sure you’ve had the experience of pickiing out a soggy, limp head of lettuce, only to get it home and hope it will revive in rolled paper towels. But most of the time the damage is already done. The leaves are limp, not crisp, and there are rust spots. You wind up throwing half of it away. So disappointing.

So “lettuce” inform you of a few ways to avoid wasting money on useless heads of letttuce. It’s easy, really: Buy hydroponic. You know those heads that you see in the plastic container that are still attached to their root ball? Those will stay fresh for several days under refrigeration. Most often, it is Boston bibb lettuce that you find this way.

You could always buy heads (not chopped lettuce, but whole heads) packaged in cellophane; those have been spared the continual shower of water.

Your third alternative? I always tell people that they have the right and the power to demand the best produce, and the power is in a little thing called the Produce Department buzzer … that little button that summons someone from the back of the counter to help you. Tell them to stop spraying lettuce so frequently and ask how frequently the hoses have been cleaned. Maybe you can effect some change in your store and make lettuce more healthy and delicious for your family … and the rest of us.

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