Pollinator Paradise Leafcutting
bees & alfalfa The
Solitary Bee Web
Binderboard™ New Mexico Native Bee Pollinator Project Nampa Farmer's Market About Dr. Strickler
Isn't it ironic that the most
basic ingredients for salads: lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers, aren't usually
available at the farmer's market all at the same time?
Lettuce needs cold temperatures, while tomatoes and cucumbers need warm
temperatures to develop. So local
lettuce gives out before the tomatoes and cucumbers are ready.
Pollination is involved in the
explanation of this irony. Tomatoes
and cucumbers are fruits, requiring long warm days to bloom.
Like tomatoes, lettuce also blooms in the heat of summer.
However, we eat lettuce leaves, not their fruit.
In the hot summer, lettuce leaves become too bitter to eat.
And lettuce fruits are simply not edible.
Do you know what lettuce fruits look like? Very similar to dandelion fruits, those feathery parasols
that take off in the wind. Yes,
those really are fruits. Botanists
call them "achenes".
So, what to do for summer salads?
Of course you can buy lettuce at the supermarket to eat with your local
farmer's market tomatoes and cucumbers, but think about it - that lettuce had to
be transported from far away, meaning a high cost for fossil fuels.
Robert Rodale, the organic gardening guru, advocated sticking to locally
grown produce in season, as an important step we can take to protect our limited
So - try leaving the lettuce out
of your salads in mid-summer. Just
fresh tomatoes and cucumber in a pesto or yogurt dressing is great.
Mix tomatoes and cucumber with mint and bulgur for tabuli.
Cold cooked beans, raw or cooked zucchini, and of course, arugula, all
make wonderful salads. And, you'll
be happy to know that Pollinator Paradise is ready to offer the first late summer
salad greens. These include baby
leaf lettuce and arugula, and mustard-spinach.
Mustard-spinach has a lettuce-like texture, and the slightest hint of
spiciness. Stop in and have a
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August 22, 2002
Copyright © 2002, Karen Strickler. All rights reserved.