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Eat Your Greens

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Fascinating discussion on the rise and fall of various greens.

It is quite possible 2020 will be remembered as a turning point in American history, a moment after which the country became irretrievably different from what it had been before.

Yes, that’s right, this could be the year consumption of romaine and other leaf lettuce finally surpasses that of head lettuce, which is mostly iceberg lettuce.

Then again, it might not be. The 2019 data, released in September, actually show lettuce heads doing slightly better against lettuce leaves than in 2017 and 2018 (ahead by 0.3 pounds instead of 0.1). Perhaps New Yorker magazine food correspondent Helen Rosner’s August 2018 manifesto, “It’s Time to Admit That Iceberg Is a Superior Lettuce,” turned the tide.

A few weeks ago, I was actually looking for iceberg lettuce to serve as the base for a dish and couldn’t find it at my local Whole Paycheck. Then I said, screw it, any lettuce will be fine.

Still, it’s been quite the comedown over the past three decades for America’s lettuce, introduced by seed purveyor W. Atlee Burpee & Co. in 1894. The standard explanation is that the great American food awakening that began in 1961 with the publication of Julia Child and Simone Beck’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” and Craig Claiborne’s “The New York Times Cookbook” led to an embrace of lettuces and other greens more flavorful and less watery than what filmmaker John Waters once called “the polyester of greens.”

This goes on to discuss the rise of kale, etc.

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