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Friday, January 8, 2010

Seasonal Vegetable Profile: Lettuce

Health: Deep green lettuce leaves provide a wealth of nutrients, including Vitamins C and K, and folate, along with the minerals potassium and magnesium. Supplying only 25 calories per cup, lettuce is a nutritional bargain and excellent for heart health.

In history: Garden lettuce is thought to be a selected variety of Lactuca serriola, a wild lettuce found throughout Europe, Asia, and North Africa. It is believed to have been first cultivated in Egypt but was also a favorite amongst the ancient Greeks.

Harvest tip: To achieve an extra nutritional boost, harvest in the early morning for maximum carotene content and flavor.

In the garden: Lettuce prefers cooler conditions so plant in early spring or late summer.

Did you know? Medieval paintings often depict the lady of the house harvesting frilly lettuces. These delicate vegetables were considered dainty enough to be touched by refined hands.

Did you know? The lettuce family, or ‘Compositae,’ is the second largest family of flowering plants, and yet it only contributes to a few food plants.

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McGee, Harold. On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. Scribner: New York, 2004.
Health content provided by Liz Applegate, Director of Sports Nutrition, UC Davis,


Fred Hoffman said...

It's easy to become a lettuce snob if you grow it. Loose leaf varieties do better than head lettuce varieties here in the Central Valley. Iceberg? fuggetaboutit! Much more taste and nutrition with the loose leaf varieties.

UC Davis Good Life Garden said...

Thanks for the tip Fred!