Farm-Fresh Lettuce: How Your Food Is Grown Matters
Although plenty of experts will tell you that what you eat is important, I invite you to also think about the source of your ingredients. In other words, consider how your vegetables, including lettuce, are grown.
Why? Throughout the past several decades, food has increasingly been grown for yield with less of a focus on nutrition and flavor. At Farmer Jones Farm, however, we regeneratively grow our vegetables because we want healthy crops grown in healthy soil for healthy people and a healthy planet.
This umbrella term covers farming practices and principles that focus on the health of the soil, improving it through farming techniques rather than allowing it to be stripped of nutrients or permitted to remain, status quo. Using cover crops replenishes the soil in healthy, natural ways.
Healthy soil is the foundation of regenerative farming. We enrich ours by growing multi-species cover crop seeds in fields that are currently fallow. Emerging blades and leaves serve as tiny solar panels to collect light energy through the sun, converting this energy to chemical energy that plants can use. Plants use the amount of chemical energy they need for nourishment and growth — about a third at first and then more — secreting (or “exudating”) the remainder into the soil through their roots. This nourishes the soil.
Once the cover crops reach the early flowering stage and are using about half of the chemical energy that they collected from the sun, the farm team gently works them into the soil. This enhances soil health further through decomposition. Because we use about a dozen cover crop species in a field, our soil is rich with diverse nutrients. In a typical year, a field will experience three to four cycles of cover crop planting and working into the soil. As an added benefit, planting cover crops helps to prevent soil erosion caused by wind and water.
After we enrich a field through cover crops, it’s ready for planting. Not surprisingly, crops planted and growing in healthy soil are themselves healthier. They possess strong immune systems that protect them from disease and insects. Although we’ve long suspected that plants grown in healthy soil would demonstrate higher mineral levels, independent lab testing proved this with our crops. This means that our regenerative farming techniques allow us to grow more nutritious vegetables.
No matter how many medications or supplements a person takes, this can’t replace eating a healthy diet. What we eat can both nourish and heal us, which is information shared by doctors and nutritionists across the country as well as the United States Department of Agriculture, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), and more.
At one time, we didn’t think beyond this equation: that healthy soil leads to healthy crops that lead to healthy people. But there is a crucial part four.
According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the healthy soil we get through regenerative farming is also more biodiverse. This helps to promote biodiversity throughout the ecosystem leading to rising populations of helpful pollinators like birds and bees. Because regenerative farming methods use fewer chemical pesticides and herbicides, water quality can improve. Healthy soil also stores water better than unhealthy soil, making the land more resistant to floods and droughts.
NRDC shares the following quote that’s quite relevant to this conversation: “Our team’s regenerative journey gives us a renewed sense of hope. Turns out, regenerative agriculture is more than medicine for the earth, it is also medicine for us.”
Know Where Your Vegetables Come From
When you can trace your ingredients to their source, you can find out more about how they’re grown. Check out Regenerative Farmers of America’s farm map to find a farm near you. You can also do a web search to find “regenerative farming” or “regenerative agriculture” in your area. If you go to a farmer’s market, ask the vendors if their farms practice regenerative farming. When you choose a farm that uses regenerative techniques, you can enjoy all of the benefits of their crops, including flavor, nutrition, and how they contribute to a healthier planet Earth.
Recipe: Grilled Romaine With Homemade Herb Vinaigrette
This grilled romaine salad with herb dressing is a perfect choice for a light summer meal. The dressing is creamy, yet light and not too overpowering. Enjoy this recipe featured on Farmer Jones Farm.
For the romaine:
- 1 lb. romaine lettuce
- Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
- Sea salt
- Shaved parmesan cheese
For the herb vinaigrette:
For the romaine:
- Preheat grill over medium heat
- Drizzle romaine with extra virgin olive oil to lightly coat
- Season with sea salt
- Place romaine on grill until lightly browned on all sides, turning every minute or two until done
- Remove from grill
- Pour over herb vinaigrette and add shaved parmesan
For the herb vinaigrette:
- In a blender, add the vinegar, lemon juice, herbs, olive oil, salt, and pepper
- Blend until smooth
- Store in the fridge until ready to use
Enjoy! With flavorful, farm-fresh lettuce, you can appreciate your salads as much as your entrées.
About the Author
“Farmer” Lee Jones is tirelessly committed to ensuring that his family’s 300-acre farm remains one of the most innovative and pioneering in the world as they grow delicious, nutritious vegetables. He always wears his trademark overalls and red bowtie as a symbol of his commitment to regenerative agricultural practices.