August 25, 2015

Another ‘Water Footprint’ Attack on Food Prompts Nassif Response

If you like a good salad – you know, the kind with lettuce – then be prepared to face the scorn of the enviro-foodie elitists.  Tamar Haspel, a self-described “ex-urban journalist now farming oysters” on that vast farm belt known as Cape Cod, writes in the Washington Post that salad, and especially its main ingredient, lettuce, “has almost nothing going for it.”

Lettuce (like every food God provides) requires water to be grown.  Ms. Haspel seems alarmed by this fact.

Ms. Haspel is the latest among many foodie elites who have indicted fresh produce foods for their “water footprints.”  First they came after the almonds (which are, by the way, packed with proteins and nutrients), and now they’re coming after lettuce. 

Ms. Haspel specifically calls out iceberg lettuce.  She is right that it is largely comprised of water and is not as nutritionally-dense as some other fresh produce items (although lettuces do contain high amounts of Vitamin A and other nutrients as well as fiber).  But so what?  Aren’t we trying – desperately – to introduce more Americans to fresh produce in place of processed fat-intensive foods (which require even more water to produce, by the way)?  Lettuce is the delicious and nutritious introduction to many other fresh veggies, and even fruits and nuts.

Ms. Haspel raises a fair point that some salads are overloaded with fattening toppings, but then again, as more Americans choose one of those salads in place of the usual fast food offerings, they are, over time, more likely to increase their consumption of fresh fruits and veggies, and to decrease consumption of processed fatty foods.

To her credit, Ms. Haspel notes that a good salad in her own home “has kept me from a second helping of lasagna.”  She doesn’t calculate the water footprint of that lasagna before continuing to lecture us to “stop thinking about salad as a wholesome staple, and start thinking about it as a resource-hungry luxury.”  Seriously?  Show me the food that requires no water to be produced and I’ll sit for the lecture.  Otherwise, cool it with water witch hunts that make villains out of the fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts we know lead to better health.