What are Mesclun Greens?
One of our best-sellers is our mesclun mix. So, what is that?
At its peak in the mid-1980s, 90% of all the lettuce sold in the U.S. was one variety. And that variety? Iceberg. But why Iceberg? Is it flavorful? No, in fact it has no flavor at all. Is it nutritious, loaded with vitamins and minerals? No, in fact it has almost zero nutrition. Iceberg lettuce is really nothing more that crunchy water. So why then did Iceburg have 90% of the lettuce market? Because it ships well over long distances. Seriously. The big industrial growers grew what was easiest for them, and consumers learned to live with it.
As a result, U.S. consumers had largely become used to bland, tasteless salads where all the flavor of the salad comes from the dressing. But for anyone willing to try salad greens that have their own flavors and textures, there is a whole other world out there.
The word 'mesclun' is a French word that means 'mixture.' A mesclun salad would be a salad made with a mixture of greens. But here in the U.S., the word has taken on the assumption that it is a mixture of only non-traditional, baby leaf greens. That means no Iceberg.
So, what kinds of greens would you find in a mesclun salad? The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) evaluated and ranked common fruits and vegetables for nutrient-density. Of the top 15 most nutritious fruits and vegetables, 11 of them are greens that we grow for our mesclun mix. They are:
2. Chinese cabbage
4. Beet greens
7. Leaf lettuce
9. Romaine lettuce
11. Turnip greens
12. Mustard greens
The first thing you should have noticed about this list is that (unlike Iceberg lettuce) all these greens are extremely nutritious.
Also keep in mind that the CDC only included "common" fruits and vegatables in their analysis, which leaves out many of our other mesclun greens. There is an entire class of greens known as asian brassicas, which includes greens you may have never heard of such as:
- Tokyo Bekana
- Pac Choi
And there are also some uncommon miscellaneous greens, like:
- Broccoli raab
- Purple sprouting broccoli
All together, we grow about 30 different mesclun greens. Our mesclun greens are available year-around, altho the mix changes constantly depending on what is in season.
Iceberg lettuce is no longer king. You can still find it in grocery stores, but it has been taken over by boxes of baby leaf "spring mix." Local-market produce growers like us may be very small compared to the large industrial growers, but look who is setting the trends.