Lettuce solve your locavore dilemma 

My family is trying really hard to do the local foods/seasonal-eating thing. The onions, squash, carrots, potatoes, and garlic in our basement were all purchased at the farmers market. My daughter picked the strawberries in the freezer, and says she wants to go hunting next year! This year we went in on a cow and a pig, both from a local farm, with our neighbors.

We follow your “slow-boat rule,” so we drink coffee and eat chocolate like normal people, and for the most part our “locavore” diet is fun and satisfying. But the one area where we’re having some trouble — especially me — is in the salad department. I really feel that eating green leaves and raw vegetables gives me something that no other foods can offer. I worry that I’m depriving myself and my family of these nutrients for the sake of an intellectual exercise. Help!

— Jonesing for Mojo

Dear Jonesing,

I don’t think it’s your imagination. Raw, living foods really are good and tasty.

First suggestion: You can make a salad by grating those carrots, onions, and garlic in your basement. They might not be leafy greens, but they’ll give you that raw-foods energy burst. That’s what they do in Siberia, since they can’t run to the store like us tender-skins and get watercress, romaine, and baby spinach. Actually, that does sound pretty good.

Second idea: Consider growing sprouts. Many seeds and grains, from mung beans to sunflower seeds to quinoa to wheat, will easily sprout, and the sprouts have the chlorophyll and vitality of spring shoots.

Soak 1 tablespoon of seeds or 1/3 cup beans overnight in 1 quart of tepid water. The next day, rinse the seeds thoroughly in tepid water and drain. Place in a quart jar covered with a dampened washcloth. Fasten with a rubber band and store in a dark cupboard. Rinse the seeds or beans twice each day. Make sure excess moisture is drained off each time. Depending on what you’re sprouting, it will take two to five days.

And if you have to buy a few salads from California, it isn’t the end of the world. After all, California can’t be that far away, judging from all the darn Californicators everywhere. And by the way, that Slow Boat rule is Bill McKibben’s, not mine: Only food that could have arrived on a slow boat from China, like canned and dried things, not frozen or even refrigerated.

Dear artist formerly known as Chef Boy Ari,

I have an ethical dilemma. I live next to a very large lettuce field. We’re talking acres. I love lettuce. Is it wrong for me to snatch a couple heads? They’re corporate, so who cares?

— Salivating As (I) Look At De Salad

Dear SALAD,

Well, as you remind readers in your greeting, I’m no longer Chef Boy Ari. And I must say, this question is interesting, especially to a nickname-less columnist like me. Could this be the start of Mr. Demeanor? If I were a chick I could call myself Miss Demeanor — scandalous!

Meanwhile, Mr. Demeanor’s apparent inability to answer your question — evidenced by the lack of any substance in the response thus far — seems nothing sort of fraudulent.

Right. OK, lemme see here. Is it wrong to steal lettuce from a corporate field?

Well, given the information you’ve provided, I’d say the fact that you really like lettuce is not enough to make stealing a few heads OK even if, presumably, nobody is directly hurt by the crime. (I mean, what do you expect me to say, SALAD?)

Yeah, it’s a little wrong. Just a little. Of course, premeditation makes it worse. And now you’ve dragged me into it, in public, no less. Conspiracy. We might as well be discussing this in a Minneapolis airport men’s room, Skypeing from adjacent stalls.

Obviously, what’s most important is that nobody gets busted, especially me. And then, for you anyway, it’s important to figure out what kind of chemical crap they dump on their corporate lettuce.

Anyway, you won’t see me telling you to strike quickly in the dark when the lettuce is cool, and then wash it very carefully. You just won’t.


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