With barbecues and salad days fast approaching Stop Food Waste is reminding the public that 50% of the lettuce we buy ends up in the bin. While a head of lettuce may seem cheap at around under €1 you can see how quickly this amount of waste can add up in euros over time.
The Stop Food Waste programme is funded under the EPA National Waste Prevention Programme (NWPP). Waste Prevention is the preferred waste management option in Ireland.
Odile Le Bolloch, spokesperson for Stop Food Waste at the EPA, advises lettuce lovers: “When you buy lettuce, make sure to take it out of its bag and wash it as soon as possible. Spin the lettuce in a salad spinner to dry off the washing water and store it in the fridge in the salad spinner. Leave a small amount of water in the bottom of the spinner and top up if needed. This keeps the lettuce fresh, it lasts longer and you have a supply of washed lettuce to use during the week.
“Another mistake people sometimes make is to cut the stalk off the lettuce with a metal knife. This can cause the lettuce to get those brown edges people hate so instead simply break off the leaves as you need them.”
Stop Food Waste also points out that growing your own lettuce and other greens not only gives you a greater appreciation for it, because you have grown and nurtured it yourself, but it also means that you take as much as you want as you need it. “You don’t need that much space to grow a few heads of lettuce, rocket or herbs – a well drained window box works great where space is limited,” says Odile Le Bolloch. “Start the window box indoors and once the first few sprouts start to show you can put it outside on a sunny sill. Make sure you keep it watered – though in Irish summers this is usually not a problem!”