Have you noticed that the cooler in the produce section of bagged salads seems to be taking over?
Every time I walk into my Stop & Shop or Trader Joe’s there seems to be one more “salad kit” or bag of greens waiting for me. Some of them make no sense to me (bagged kale? – how hard is it to tear and wash kale?) but there are times when I buy it.
I am not alone in my purchasing of these convenience salads.
Since 1985, our consumption of leaf and Romaine lettuce has more than tripled (from about 3 pounds per person per year, to more than 11 pounds per person), according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Isn’t that wonderful? It seems that bagged salads have increased our overall consumption of lettuce which we all know is a good thing.
But what are the risks? Can you really dump out the bag and simply eat the salad or do you have to wash it again? What about freshness? Is this plastic wrapped salad as good for you as a less processed head of lettuce?
It turns out that the growers have triple washed the salad and the amount of pathogens or bacterial equals the amount that you would have if you wash your own lettuce.
The bag of lettuce is made with a special plastic that helps it keep it fresh. These salads are shipped quickly from the processing plant and have been shown to maintain most of their nutrients. Obviously, the longer it sits there - the more brown it will turn but the supply chain has these out to your store very quickly.
But, what about the trash? So, there is no way to cushion the blow here. If you buy your lettuce without a plastic bag then you will be making more trash with the bagged salad. I reuse my plastic bags so I would be creating much more trash if I relied on the pre-bagged salad. Also, the bagged salads often cost twice as much or more than a fresh head of lettuce.
These are fresh, safe, and easy. But these bagged salads are environmentally more costly and more costly to your wallet.
Overall, I think bagged salads are a good thing. They make eating well easier and I am FOR that.
If you do have time, buy a lettuce spinner like the one below. I don’t have this one but I was in a rental house that had one – it is really sturdy and easy to use.
I will buy a head of lettuce, wash it and store it in the spinner in the fridge for when I want to make a fast salad.
What is your take on bagged salads? Do you buy them?