Think Outside The Bag… of Lettuce!


How does one make a healthier family lifestyle easier?-– is an answer I might die searching for. And some have. I do think there are alternative ways, other than using bag lettuces.

As a working parent, I am always excited about purchasing something that can make life easier for anyone the kitchen, especially at the end of a long day. Although, I occasionally consume those, salads-in-a-bag, these pretty looking and sometimes fun to hear squishy little bags- really have me questioning my higher foodie power.

The salad-in- a-bag, issue really poses a few questions in my mind… first of all, how healthy can it be? Are the phytonutrients still living? And, what’s my issue… I can’t make a salad in five minutes?

Weekly, I stand in front of the cold storage containers that house all these beautiful fresh looking bagged pre-washed lettuces, I often say under my breath… “Is this what it’s coming to?”

How long does it really take to open a bag of this pre-shredded material and rewash it – as opposed to loping off the ends of a root -ball and running the contents under running water or dropping the leaves in a pool of room temperature water until you prepare the rest of the ingredients?

This convenient bag o’-first-course must be washed after opening due to the increasing evidence that this bacterium contaminates lettuce through use of manure fertilizers. And in some cases, there has been Salmonella and E. Coli, Listeria living on greens and vegetables that have not been fertilized this way. If you choose lettuce in the bag or not- wash your hands before working with any raw produce and always wash your produce regardless. I’m here to tell you that salad living in a bag is not the safest choice.

January 2016, health officials have finally traced an outbreak of Listeria that sickened 12 people and killed one to a Dole facility that makes bagged salads in Ohio.

Check the expiration date on package and evaluate the life of the greens stored inside the bag. Even if the product looks manageable- you should avoid buying any product after the expiration date. Bagged salads often claim they have been washed and are labeled “Pre-washed” or “Ready to eat.” I often question that method.

My recommendation is to wash anything you bring home; with a non-toxic veggie wash if possible. Keep in mind- bacteria can grow faster in foods that are older or are deteriorating- always purchase the freshest ingredients possible. And try to think outside the bag anytime you can. The additional steps to wash a regular head of lettuce is not far from opening a bag of possible contamination. Bag lettuces are processes whether you think so or not.

Salads are really something that can be made in significantly the same amount of time it takes to choose a bag, take it home, and re-wash it… and if that doesn’t change your mind maybe the cost and possible food-borne illness will!


Published by Chef Gigi Gaggero, Host of Silicon Valley's LIVE Food Talk Radio on KSCU 103.3 FM

Professional Chef, Two Time Award-Winning Book Author, Former Academic Director from Le Cordon Bleu, and Host of Silicon Valley's LIVE Food Talk Radio on KSCU 103.3 FM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: