Friday, May 8, 2009

Save Some Green

If you are familiar with my wizardly wordsmithery, today's title may have you wondering what this post will be about: Do I mean "green" as in money? As in salad greens? Or maybe as in eco-friendly? Well, in a personal best, the title of this post is a triple-entendre because it is actually about all three of those topics. No, no, no need to applaud. Your presence here is more than enough.

Today's tip is to compel you to buy heads of lettuce and wash them yourself, rather than the bags of pre-washed stuff. Ultimately, it will save you a surprising amount of money, will stay fresh and green longer, and is a smarter choice for the environment.

Here's what you do (it may seem obvious, but how many times have you ended up with a soggy or sandy salad? I thought so.):
1. Invest in a Salad Spinner (I like the OXO Salad Spinner, which is roughly $25 on Or, if you don't want to spend the money on getting one for yourself, just get married, and I swear you'll end up with, like, six of 'em.
2. Pull each leaf off of the stem individually, down to the smallest center leaves which will snap off like a cute little mini head of lettuce. This will keep them looking their best (as opposed to just trying to rip them all off in one fell swoop, which will mangle them).
3. Fill a bowl with cold water and dunk all the leaves into it, swishing them around a bit. After about 30 seconds, all the sand and dirt from their leaves will settle at the bottom of the bowl. Take the leaves out and place them in the basket of the Salad Spinner. Dump out the dirty water.
4. Use the Spinner according to directions- with the one I have, you just have to press down a button a few times.
5. To store the lettuce for later use, wrap the leaves in dry paper towels and place them in a clean Ziplock™ bag in your fridge's Crisper drawer.

Here's why you should wash your own lettuce:
1. It is remarkably cheaper. At my grocery store, a head of organic romaine is $2.75, and a clamshell package of pre-washed romaine is $4.99. That means that over the course of a year, a family of four can save $100,000 by washing their own lettuce (okay, I made that up, but you can save a lot).
2. It will last longer. When stored properly, washed lettuce will stay fresh and crisp for up to ten days. Seriously. (Unlike that pre-bagged stuff that wilts and tastes like plastic on the first day).
3. It's better for the environment. You can rinse and reuse the same Ziplock™ bag indefinitely, instead of throwing out all of those soggy lettuce bags (Or worse those hard-plastic clamshells- Tsk tsk). If you also buy organic, then we'll really be talking.
4. It may be safer. Some experts say that pre-washed lettuce is not truly safe from e coli and other bacterial contamination, and that you should wash it again before eating. So you might say that just washing your own lettuce in the first place could save you from getting green with a food bourne illness. Get it!?! - a fourth meaning for green! No?

Okay, that one was a little weak. But, come on, admit it, those first three were freaking brilliant. Move over, Will Shortz.

photo credit: corbis

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