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Publication #FCS8879

Florida Fresh: Lettuce1

Claudia Peñuela2

Nutrition Facts

Florida's lettuces are:

  • High in vitamin A (with the exception of crisphead lettuce). Vitamin A aids in normal vision, healthy skin, and protects against infections.

  • High in vitamin K, which helps in proper bone growth and blood clotting.

  • A good source of vitamin C, which helps to heal cuts and keeps teeth and gums healthy.

  • A good source of folate. Folate produces red blood cells and reduces a woman's risk of having a baby with certain brain or spinal cord birth defects.

  • Source of fiber. Fiber reduces the risk of heart disease.

  • Naturally free of fat and cholesterol, and low in calories and sodium.

Note: There are four types of lettuce: romaine, butterhead, crisphead, and looseleaf. Romaine lettuce has tall, tightly packed, darker green leaves, with the inner leaves in lighter hues. Butterhead lettuce has a buttery texture and its leaves are not as densely packed. Crisphead lettuce has pale green leaves forming a tight head. Looseleaf lettuce does not form a head; its leaves are joined at the stem.

Figure 1. 
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Why buy locally?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that the average farmers' market produce travels about 50 miles to its destination, compared to 2,000 miles for supermarket produce.

Buy locally and get these benefits:

  • Freshness and good nutrition. Fruits and vegetables harvested in their peak have better flavor and nutritional characteristics.

  • Social/cultural. Helps the community to be aware of the importance of agriculture.

  • Environmental. Protects the natural resources such as green space, wildlife, water, air, and soil.

  • Economic. Promotes local labor force.

Where are Florida's lettuces harvested?

Florida's lettuces are harvested throughout Florida.

When can you buy Florida lettuces?

You can buy Florida lettuces from November through May. This is seven months out of the year!

Table 1. 

JAN

FEB

MAR

APR

MAY

JUN

JUL

AUG

SEP

OCT

NOV

DEC

Select

  • Crisphead and romaine lettuces heavy for their size and that have crisp, tender leaves.

  • Butterhead and looseleaf lettuces that have softer leaves.

  • Bright color (dark to light green). The darker the green, the more antioxidants and nutrients.

  • Mixed lettuces for more nutritional balance.

  • Lettuces that do not have dry leaves.

  • Lettuces with leaves that are not wilted, browned, and/or yellowed.

Figure 2. 
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Figure 3. 
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Florida Fresh Lettuce: From Market to Table

Sweet and Sour Leafy Green Salad

Yield: 4 Servings

5 cups torn romaine lettuce

3 cups lightly packed spinach

2 cups sliced mushrooms

2 peeled and sliced oranges

1 cup halved pitted prunes

½ cup sliced red onion

½ cup nonfat honey mustard dressing

¼ tsp ground black pepper

Toss all ingredients in a large bowl.

*Nutrition info per serving (¼ recipe): Calories: 190 cal; Fat 1 g; Sodium 310 mg; Carb 47 g; Fiber 7 g; Protein 4 g; Vitamin A 130%; Vitamin C 110%; Calcium 10%; Iron 10%. *Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium and Iron listed as % of daily value based on 2,000 calories.

Adapted from: http://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/dnparecipe/recipesearch.aspx [delinked August 13, 2012].

Florida Salad

Yield: 8 Servings

1 cup torn romaine lettuce

½ cup coarsely chopped escarole

2 peeled and sliced carrots

½ cup coarsely chopped endive

1 seeded and sliced green pepper

1 bunch chopped cilantro

1 peeled and sectioned tangelo

1 peeled and sliced avocado

½ cup coarsely chopped kale

1 peeled and sliced cucumber

½ cup sliced strawberries

4 sliced radishes

½ cup whole cherry tomatoes

Toss all ingredients in a large bowl. Choose low-fat dressing.

Nutrition info per serving (Without dressing): Calories: 95 cal; Fat 3 g; Carb 9 g; Fiber 1 g; Protein 0 g

Adapted from: http://www.florida-agriculture.com/consumers/fnr/recipes/Vegetable-6050.html.

Footnotes

1.

This document is FCS8879, one of a series of the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. First published: August 2009. Reviewed, with minor revision: September 2012. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Claudia Peñuela, nutrition assistant-EFNEP, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences; Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.