Mike Hornick, Staff Writer
Mike Hornick, Staff Writer

When it comes to the leafy greens destined for your plate, how soon are you willing to let the ax fall?

And who should wield it — you or the shipper?

Whole head versus bagged mix is a time-tested option, but you can escalate the situation too and choose between root-attached lettuce and a chopped salad.

You won’t find comparable choices in the meat department. In produce, they’re multiplying.

Green Giant Fresh is the latest label to offer a living lettuce. The butter lettuce, hydroponically produced by Salinas, Calif.-based Growers Express, packs root-attached in a clamshell.

U.S. suppliers of living lettuce have included Tanimura & Antle, Hollandia Produce, Westland Produce, Bella Verdi Farms, Endless Summer Harvest and Living Lettuce Farms.

Mirabel, Quebec-based Hydroserre Mirabel and Netherlands-based Deliscious are among the international suppliers.

Advocates of living lettuce say the root adds up to a week to shelf life, and talk up the sustainability benefits and reduced pesticide use of greenhouses.

It’s not produced in the ground, so replanting at home is a bad idea.

Eat your lettuce! At some point you just have to cut the cord.

There’s no confusion on that last point, no pangs of conscience, with chopped salads.

You’re happy to have a processor fire up the blades and put them to carrots, brussels sprouts, snap peas — anything. Living lettuce is crunchy, for sure, but so are the carrots — and that classic salad ingredient, tortilla strips.

Chopped salads account for 11.5% of the $53.3 million kit category, Nielsen Perishables Group reported in late July.

Since then Taylor Farms Retail, Dole Fresh Vegetables, Fresh Express and Mann Packing Co. have all rolled out new products, bidding to push those numbers higher.

I’ll bite. Chop, chop.


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