Lettuce starts this off by giving you a few amazing facts about this delicious, highly versatile, and nearly 95% water vegetable. This annual plant of the daisy family is the second most popular veggie in the U.S., right behind the potato. The average American roughly eats around 30 pounds a year.
We can start by giving thanks to Christopher Columbus, who is known as one of the first people to bring lettuce to the Americas in 1494 during his second voyage, but even before that, Ancient Egypt was cultivating lettuce for production of oil from its seeds.
The production of lettuce was revolutionized in the 1950s with the development of vacuum cooling, which replaced the previous ice-cooling method. California and Arizona grow the majority of the lettuce in the U.S. but are still far behind the world's top producer, China.
Please try to Romaine calm ;) I'm just going to give you a few nutritional facts and then I'm going to get to some specifics. The darker the green the more nutritious it is, it's an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin K, and folate, and has low-calorie content, only 15 calories in 100gr. Lettuce can help lower cholesterol, boost heart, brain, and vision health, lower inflammation, help with regular sleep patterns and even control anxiety.
Next, I would like to go over 3 of the 4 most common types of lettuce, which are: loose-leaf, head, and romaine or COS.
This type has a number of different varieties that never form heads, but consist of large, loosely packed leaves that are either red or green in color with smooth or ruffled edges. It is also known for its "cut and grow back" nature which allows you to cut/harvest the leaves several times as it will continue to grow back until it eventually bolts (goes to seed).
This variety has long deep green leaves that form a spherical-shaped head with a very crisp texture and slightly bitter taste which is great for grilling or sauteing. Most commonly known for Ceasar Salads, romaine is one of the few varieties that can tolerate heat, grow upright, and is believed to be one of the oldest varieties of lettuce in the world.
This tasty lettuce gets its name from the delicate texture and sweet buttery flavor. These loose heads range in color from purplish red to pale green. Chefs from all over highly prize these gourmet varieties. This week our Farm Box members will be getting a head of Red Boston, which is also known as limestone lettuce. Along with mixed loose-leaf lettuce and romaine.
Lastly, I would like to talk about one more vegetable that is most often confused to be lettuce, Frisee Lettuce. Frisee is actually a variation of endive and is considered to be a leafy vegetable, that's why it gets confused with lettuce. It is similar to escarole but with much thinner and smaller leaves. Its bitter flavor adds just the right balance to a dish, especially when paired with something fruity.
Our Farm Box members will also be receiving frisee in their boxes this week, enjoy! Feeling left out? Well, here's your chance to win an 8 week Farm Box Membership, come to the Route 1 Farmers Market on March 13 or March 20 and sign up for Dare 2 Dream's mailing list and get a raffle ticket for our drawing to win. Follow us on Instagram for upcoming raffle information.
Pro Tip: You should never store your lettuce near any ethylene-emitting fruits (e.g. apples, bananas, etc). Ethylene causes lettuce to rapidly decay and ripen very fast.