Lettuce Facts

Lettuce Facts
Lettuce is leafy vegetable that belongs to the sunflower family. It originates from Mediterranean region, but it can be found around the world today. Lettuce prefers colder climate, which postpones development of flowers and ensures proper development of leaves. Around 23 million metric tons of lettuce are produced and consumed each year. Majority of globally consumed lettuce originates from China.
Interesting Lettuce Facts:
Lettuce is herbaceous plant that can reach 6 to 12 inches in height.
Lettuce produces mass of leaves that grow around short stem. Some varieties of lettuce produce yellow, golden, reddish, bluish or variegated (multicolored) leaves.
Lettuce develops 3-feet-tall flowering stalk with yellow flowers on top of it. Flowers contain both types of reproductive organs and they are able to perform self-pollination.
Fruit of lettuce is dry capsule filled with one seed. Fruit has feathery extension which facilitates dispersal by wind.
Lettuce is ready for the harvest 65 to 130 days after sowing, depending on the variety. Lettuce is manually harvested before it reaches full maturity (to prevent flowering and loss of nutrients from the leaves).
Lettuce can be cultivated in the ground or in the water (method of cultivation called hydroponics, where plants grow from the nutritious, water solution). Hydroponics are more popular today because this way of cultivation doesn't depend on the weather conditions (it can be performed all year round).
Lettuce provides dietary fibers, vitamins A, B9 and C and minerals such as calcium, iron and copper. Darker varieties provide more nutrients than light green varieties.
Fibers are concentrated in the ribs, and minerals and vitamins in the leafy part of lettuce.
Lettuce can be consumed in the form of salads or as an ingredient of sandwiches. It can be also used for the wrapping of food.
Iceberg, Romaine and Leaf lettuce are the best known varieties of lettuce. They differ in color, texture and in the amount of nutrients.
Name "Iceberg" originates from the preservation method that was used at the beginning of the 20th century in California. When refrigerators were not available, large quantities of ice were used to prevent spoilage of lettuce in the trains on their trips to the market. Carriages were filled with icebergs that floated on top of the lettuce on their final destinations, hence the name - iceberg lettuce.
Ancient Egyptians cultivated lettuce 6.000 years ago. It was important part of their diet, based on the paintings in the tombs of many Egyptian rulers.
Lettuce was also very important for the ancient Romans and ancient Greeks who believed that lettuce induce sleeping.
Iceberg lettuce is the most popular and most commonly cultivated variety of lettuce in the USA. Americans consume 30 pounds of lettuce per person each year.
Lettuce is an annual plant (life span: one year).


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