I read an article the other week saying that 40% of bagged salad is thrown away in the UK each year (about 178 million bags). First of all I thought that it must be rubbish, I mean that is a huge figure. But then I started to think about it. As a household we try to avoid food wastage as much as possible, freezing leftovers and batch cooking etc but the other week we ended up throwing away a bag of salad that we’d bought for the BBQ and not used. Why did we end up throwing it away? Well firstly we had purchased too many bags of salad, secondly it didn’t fit with any of the meals we had planned and thirdly (and most important to the issue of food waste I feel) it wasn’t that fresh anymore. It was still within date (just) but it had gone all soggy and just didn’t look appetising. Now I don’t think this is down to our storage of it (we follow all packaging and storage guidance given on the product) or down to the retailer we buy from, rather I think this is a problem with salad leaves. They just don’t last that long. They are designed to be consumed fairly quickly after picking. And once gone past their best they aren’t really edible.
So we are going to try and grow some salad leaves in our raised beds. Salad leaves are ridiculously easy to grow, require little attention, and can just be picked when needed, hopefully reducing waste. The cost of a packet of seeds is comparable to one to two bags of salad and the number of leaves produced per packet of seeds will be way more, most of the varieties I’ve planted will regrow and can be picked up to four times. Which means fresh salad and no waste. I had an abundance of salad seeds free from magazines so I’ve planted short rows of four different varieties. For us, if there are any excess leaves then they will be greatly appreciated by the chickens. The varieties we’re growing are Lambs Lettuce (Valentin), Mustard Leaves (oriental colour and bite), Spinach (Samish F1) and Lettuce Salad Bowl Red and Green mixed. They all look like the type of leaves we enjoy in our salads and so we should hopefully avoid waste. Any leaves which need to be picked but we can’t use ourselves can always go to the chickens as treats.