There’s one food, though, that has almost nothing going for it. It occupies precious crop acreage, requires fossil fuels to be shipped, refrigerated, around the world, and adds nothing but crunch to the plate.
It’s salad, and here are three main reasons why we need to rethink it.
Salad vegetables are pitifully low in nutrition. The biggest thing wrong with salads is lettuce, and the biggest thing wrong with lettuce is that it’s a leafy-green waste of resources.
I concede the point — if you arbitrarily limit your definition of “salad vegetables” to “vegetables that aren’t very nutritious,” then salad “has nothing going for it.” A diner salad consisting of iceberg lettuce and cucumbers covered in Kraft French dressing is indeed pretty much empty calories.
But why the hell would you limit the definition of “salad” to this? Salads that use a base of spinach, kale, field greens, cabbage and carrots — very nutritious! Many other ingredients you could add to this — tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, artichokes, hearts of palm — also more nutritious than iceberg lettuce! Many or all of these ingredients are almost certainly available in your plain vanilla local supermarket. Combine decent olive oil, some combination of vinegar and lemon juice, Dijon mustard, salt, and your favorite herb and you have a good dressing. Most salads are nutritious and tasty as both main courses and side dishes.
Saying that salads are bad because one particular salad isn’t very nutritious makes exactly as much sense as saying that since iceberg lettuce isn’t very nutritious vegetables are massively overrated.
In fairness, point #2 is much more sound: the word “salad” on a chain restaurant menu often entails a dish with not more more in nutrients and more calories than a burger and fries. But the framing of the article is deeply strange.