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Friday, July 8, 2011

The Dark Side of Homegrown Salad Greens

me: "Hi, this is Gina, how may I help you?"
me: "Why? What's wrong?" (I am only moderately concerned)
me: "Hmmmm...really?  That sucks. I'm surprised it survived the washing and fridge overnight."
me:  Silence. I know what's coming...

I washed it.  Three times!  I swear!  I have this technique of washing my homegrown salad greens where I put them in the salad spinner and fill the bowl with cold water and let them sit for a few minutes.  You know, so the bugs will drown and float to the top.  I do that three times and usually it works.  God!  I have run across some crazy shit in those salad greens.  I am particularly creeped out by earwigs so when they crawl out of the salad greens onto my hand while I'm picking them or washing them it's all I can do not to scream bloody murder.  My goal is to remain calm so as not to alert my husband who is even more creeped out by bugs in the garden than I am.  It is hard enough to get him to eat the food I grow after he watches squirrels and rabbits frolicking amongst the food but bugs that survived the cleaning process?  Forget it.

I have written about my husband's pest issues before.  How he used to keep a pile of rocks by the back door of the 2nd floor two flat apartment we rented.  He'd put a couple in his pocket in case he encountered a squirrel in the yard on the way to the train in the mornings.  In his defense, the squirrels were very aggressive, probably because the folks next door fed them all manner of food right out of their kitchen.  We once found a partially eaten hot dog with a bun on our back porch which we assumed had been dragged up there by a squirrel.  And then there's the time he accidentally ran over the baby rabbits with the lawn mower. He left the lawn mower sitting in the middle of the yard and refused to mow the grass for 3 years.  I was content paying for the service because they helped me weed the garden, too.  But then they "weeded" my strawberries, so I fired them.  And the next ones "weeded" an expensive Autumn Moon Japanese Maple and some other nice plants so I fired them, too.  I digress.

I'm making light of it here but bugs and animals in the garden are just part of the organic home garden.  I wish somebody would tell me how to wash my salad greens in a manner that would remove 100% of bugs 100% of the time.  Or how to convince my husband that a bug or a squirrel in the garden isn't the end of the world. That just because grocery store salad comes in a nice clear crispy plastic bag doesn't mean it's really clean or safe.  I guarantee we'll never get e. coli from my homegrown salad greens!

me: "J says to tell you that you can either deal with an occasional bug in your salad or a lifetime of pesticide"
him: "I'll take the pesticide"


  1. I read a story recently where a farmer hired his daughter to run in front of his heavy farm equipment and scare the mice and rabbits out of the lettuces so the animals wouldn't get chopped up with the salad greens. If they did get animal bits in the lettuce, they had to take it to the triple wash facility, and that really cut into their profit margin. The implication was that mowing over the animals was the norm for most farmers, though.

    I have no idea if it's true or not. The story is from a novel, so it could be entirely fictitious. But, I bet it would get your husband off commercial salad greens.

    On second thought, it might just get him off salad entirely...

    You could just mention that commercial fields are full of mice and rats and leave out the bit about them being potentially chopped up.

  2. LOL! I love the description of the discussion. Just when you think you're doing something good your spouse notices you've added chard to something or a bug crawl out. You can't win for losing, yes?

  3. I put mine in a large bowl full of water and weigh them down for at least an hour with a plate on top of the greens to keep them submerged so all the stuff drowns.

  4. This is funny! As religious Jews, we are not allowed to eat visible insects of any kind, even the teeny tiny kind, dead or alive.
    So we're very, VERY careful about washing salads, broccoli etc., with all manner of veggie rinses, vinegar, dish soap - whatever works. They even sell a special light table so you can spot REALLY hard-to-find infestations.
    Won't help you remove them, though. :-)
    (many Jews won't eat certain types of produce because it's known to be highly infested)

  5. I soak and then pick up each leaf and shake it as I put it in the spinner. Only one bug has gotten through that I know of this year. My hubby's a little less squimish.

  6. We celebrated Mother's Day this year with a luncheon at my sister's house.
    I was in charge of bringing the salad.
    As we all sat around the table (3 sisters,any of their daughters, Mom and myself, small green inch worms crawled off of our beautiful, organic, flower petal garnished salads.
    I now drive myself crazy checking every leaf before eating.

  7. Gina, so feeling your pain. I do what Heather does with supermarket greens. I haven't grown any greens but when I do, I'll do that for my own garden stuff as well. And so you know, I save the water that my greens have soaked in and pour it into my watering can. My houseplants and tropicals love it.