Lettuce has been in the news a lot the last week or so and not in a good way. Don’t buy romaine, we’ve been told, and if you have any, throw it out immediately.
The reason for this is two-fold, but only one reason has been explored in the national news.
Nearly 100 peoples have been infected with E. coli bacteria that has been traced to a single farm in Yuma, Arizona. This lettuce traveled far and wide, all the way to Alaska and to 21 other states.
As one news article put it, “If you are still eating romaine lettuce, stop.”
Not one source I’ve found has mentioned the second reason: Lack of knowledge of the source of our food. No one has suggested that we change our buying habits and either shop at local farmers markets, farm stands or other places where we can confirm the source of what we are buying, where we can know our farmer and what he or she is growing.
We have, it seems, lost our common sense when it comes to food. It is so simple to avoid these national recalls: Grow what you can, shop locally — not just in your town, but at markets that sell locally grown produce and identify the source.
And don’t buy pre-packaged or pre-sliced produce. Do you really want to pay a corporation to perform an act — slicing lettuce or grating carrots, for example — that takes about two minutes at home?
It’s a good time to have this conversation, as May is National Salad Month.
For the simplest salad, the one I refer to as my nightly salad, you don’t even need a recipe. Here’s what you do: Buy good greens — I’m an enthusiastic fan of the micro-greens and flowers grown by EarthWorker Farm in west Sebastopol. Put them in a bowl and season them lightly with salt. Give them a bit of a toss, drizzle with some good olive oil and add a light spritz of your favorite acid. I typically prefer fresh lemon juice or lime juice but sometimes use grapefruit juice. You can use vinegar, too. Give it a final toss and, if you want to get fancy, add a few turns of black pepper. That’s all there is to it. You don’t need bottled dressing and you don’t need other ingredients. It’s healthy, delicious and, if you follow the seasons when it comes to the greens and flowers, you will never ever grow tired of it.
Americans are known, around the world, for a fear of germs, a point of view that has lead to warnings on menus about the dangers of eating everything from undercooked eggs to raw and even rare meat. In the early 1990s, it was briefly illegal in New Jersey to serve eggs with yolks that had not been cooked until hard. Locally, I was once told that it was illegal to serve a rare hamburger. So, here you go: This dish includes an egg that is nearly, but not quite entirely, raw. You can choose to live dangerously or you can omit the egg and have a less voluptuous salad.
Sonoma Caesar Salad