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Lettuce Chat, 5/01/24, It's SO frESH!

Howdy Friends and Fans! Have you ever opened a bag of lettuce and wondered, "Wow! This is so fresh! Why is this SO frESH??" (Never done that with produce?) Or what about that commercial asking you about the state of your milk in the fridge (ok, the opposite of fresh with the milk, or deli meats, or some burgeoning science project in the back of the fridge... The one that makes you almost scared to look and find out... Rabbit hole!) I think I need to rephrase. Have you ever wondered WHY your Loudoun Lettuce or European Lettuce Blend is super fresh? As it turns out, we have had many, many customers ask the question about why ours (compared to what you can find in the store) is so freshy-fresh and lasts sooo long. "How do you do it?" I'm here today to tell you the abbreviated tale of the super frESH lettuce. *Side note for all who may be wondering: frESH= fresh + Endless Summer Harvest.

If you've heard this one before, stop me, and skip down to the bottom. Otherwise, prepare to be amazed! It all starts in the nursery with the love and care of germinating and starting a great life, in the life of a head of lettuce. The magic really happens in our agricultural controlled greenhouses, named Greenhouse One and Greenhouse Two. The really nifty NFT (nutrient film) technology sends perfectly calibrated nutrition across the roots of each plant, allowing the roots to absorb exactly what the lettuce needs to grow and thrive. This means that we have no sand, dirt, or animal residues involved.

Once each week's crop is "ready Freddie", each head is hand harvested, with loving care. Then, we carefully go through all the lettuce heads, culling the bad, keeping the perfect whole leaves, leaving us with only the finest leaves for the pile of lettuce we are building. Once we have what we consider the perfect blend of lettuce, we bag it all up and seal it. What's the perfect blend you ask? It is a leafy and beautiful blend of five or more (of the 10 to 15 varieties that we grow) sweet lettuces. Each pile is small batch and unique, as we use what we have on hand at the time. And

each pile is lovingly built with the utmost of freshness in mind.

This process is repeated each and every week (like Groundhog's day, but in a week), and by the time you purchase your bag of Loudoun Lettuce, it is only one or two days old. It hasn't made a cross-country trip in the back of a semi-truck, after having been treated with some freshness retaining chemical or whatnot. No, no. Instead, it is only hours old (or sometimes even just 30 minutes old), fresh off our table, otherwise untouched, and kept chilled to the appropriate temperature.

If you're a thorough reader of our website, you'll know what's coming next (as stated on the Our Commitment to You page). Here's a direct quote from that page: "We do not wash our lettuce blends or herbs before we package them (for a few reasons).  First, this would add a step in preparing your lettuce blends, which adds more time for the lettuce to be exposed to environmental influence. That's not what we want to do. The least amount of touching and handling the lettuce, the better!  Even though we have tested and approved safe water, and even though we clean and sanitize our preparation surfaces, introduction of additional water onto the lettuce, could be introducing pathogens onto or into our fresh greens!  Afterall, we don’t want to stress our lettuce out anymore than we have to, and we will not take any steps that would add any risk of contamination or cross contamination.  Lastly, we aren't spraying harmful chemicals or fertilizers onto the surface of the lettuce." (***Even though we have clean and safe lettuce blends and culinary herbs, please wash your lettuce before you eat it. This goes for ALL produce, regardless of what it is or where you got it.)

There you have it, Friends and Fans: frESH lettuce in a nutshell! (Not in a clam shell like some living heads are, because our living heads are too big for those.) Thank goodness you don't have to worry about the state of Endless Summer Harvest lettuce in your fridge! Here at ESH we know A LOT about keeping lettuce frESH! Our bagged lettuce and herbs products are available to you weekly at the Falls Church farmers market, Organic Butcher of McLean and Bethesda, Hamilton Mercantile, Fermented Pig's Merrifield Store (coming soon), and right here on site, at the Endless Summer Harvest farm. Lettuce Chat again soon!

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