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Produce Facts: Lettuce

Sep 01, 2016

Trivia to Impress Your Friends

We're wrapping up "lettuce month" with this week's spotlight on general lettuce facts.

Did you know that two thirds of restaurant consumers are eager to try new and unique varieties of salad greens? That's according to the Technomic survey, "The Lettuce Revolution."

Here are some other facts from that same survey:

- 66% of consumers perceive salad greens with a darker color as more upscale.

- Seven in ten consumers agree that curly/robust/leafy salad greens enhance the visual appeal of salad.

- 77% of respondents say that the nutritional value of salad greens is important or extremely important to them whenever they order a salad at a restaurant.

More lettuce facts:

  • Lettuce is categorized into two types: head, which is iceberg; and leaf, which includes romaine, butterhead and other leaf types.
  • California produces more than 70% of the nation's head lettuce.
  • Iceberg lettuce presumably got its name from after California growers started shipping it covered with heaps of crushed ice in the 1920s. It had previously been called crisp head lettuce.
  • Iceberg lettuce takes about 85 days from sowing to maturity. Leaf lettuces average 45 to 50 days from sowing to maturity.
  • Lettuce started out as a weed around the Mediterranean basin. Served in dishes for more than 4500 years.
  • Lettuce is a good source of vitamin K, and darker green lettuce leaves are more nutritious than lighter green leaves. Get more nutritional facts from the USDA.

Storage Facts

  • Lettuce should be stored at 32-35 F with 90-98% relative humidity.
  • Translucent outer leaves are an indication of freeze damage.
  • Keep lettuce away from drafts to prevent dehydration. Store away from ethylene-producing fruits. Lettuce may wilt if it is exposed to drafts or stored at warm temps. It may exhibit russet (brown) spotting if exposed to ethylene gas.

  • Heads should be springy-firm and give slightly to gentle pressure. 
  • Some browning of the core end is natural and occurs from oxidation after harvested and trimmed. 

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