Tuesday, January 20, 2009

No future for iceberg lettuce

Packer Managing Editor Fred Wilkinson here.

Of all fruits and vegetables, iceberg lettuce has to be one of the most maligned (unfairly in my opinion), scorned for being a low-rent salad base that lacks nutritional value.

The latest charge in the case against iceberg: It's socially and environmentally irresponsible.

A piece in Advertising Age quotes futurist (how does one become a futurist anyway?) Richard Watson as saying that energy and water demands of producing hydroponic iceberg lettuce place it on the list of "socially unacceptable foods."

The charge seems a tad overblown if for no other reason than hydroponic lettuce production is small compared to conventional field production.

And while I'm very skeptical of such predictions in general, it does raise an interesting issue.

Considering environmental pressures in growing regions (water in California comes to mind) and rising costs for fertilizer and other inputs, it's not inconceivable that activists and regulators in the near future could could call for "smart" planting and harvesting the same way they now champion lower environmental impact "smart" growth.

1 comment:

Tom Karst said...

Good post Fred. You would think he would have gone after confinement cattle operations but likening iceberg lettuce to the uncool hummers and mcmansion is a little over the top.. and wouldn't hydroponic lettuce be more efficient in some ways...

Tom K