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Lactuca industria

Posted by: Sam | Posted on: August 21st, 2011

You walk into the supermarket in search of a packaged lettuce mix.  You find a row of plastic clam shell containers packed with green leaves.  They look wholesome and nutritious.  The package even reassures you; “All Natural,” it says, so it must be pure and fresh.

You grab the freshest looking lettuce and walk on without thinking much about where, how, or when that lettuce got to that supermarket.  What you may not realize – and what the package certainly doesn’t tell you – is that the lettuce went on a long odyssey to get to your shopping cart.

First, it started in California.  Or Arizona.  99% of US lettuce is grown in one of those two places.  Huge tractors dropped the seeds into nutrient-poor dirt on a massive tract of land in the Salinas Valley.  After being doused with prodigious amounts of water, and sprayed with fertilizer and carcinogenic pesticides by migrant workers, the leaves were harvested by other big machines.

The lettuce was then shipped to the processing plant, perhaps many miles away.  There the lettuce was sorted on conveyor belts, then sprayed with chemical solutions like chlorine, and then put into industrial dryers.  Then back onto conveyor belts and packaged, possibly being packaged at a different location entirely.

Then the lettuce spent the next week or so on refrigerated trucks and rail cars.  It was shipped all over the place, passing from truck to truck, through distribution centers and middlemen before finally making its way to the supermarket and your shopping cart.

At the end of the cycle, the lettuce was already beginning to wilt on the grocery store shelves and lasted only a few days in your refrigerator.  Of course, you wanted lettuce in the first place to eat something fresh and healthy, but it wasn’t really all that fresh or tasty.

The whole process wasted a lot of resources.  Lots of food, water, money, fossil fuels, and other resources were lost.

At Big Box Farms, we think it’s time for a better way of growing produce.

- Sam

ps. Check out this Undercover Boss video clip to get a glimpse of the conventional agriculture process.