Mesclun or leaf salad mix is an assortment of small, young salad leaves, which originated in Provence, France. Traditionally, mesclun includes chervil, arugula, leafy lettuces, and endive in equal proportions. There are many iterations of this sort of leaf salad mix; some include spinach, swiss chard, mustard greens, frisée, mizuna, mâche, radicchio, and sorrel. The mesclun story is rather interesting. It is said to originate at the Cimiez monastery in Nice where the Franciscan monks were so poor that they had nothing to give the locals for their alms. Apparently also lacking in gardening skills, the Monks took to the surrounding fields and gathered a variety of wild leaves to make a salad, and thus musclun, from the French "mescal" meaning "to mix", was born. While mesclun was originally gathered in the spring and summer, it has now become a year-round commodity. One of the most poignant commentaries on industrial (even organic industrial) salad comes from Michael Pollan in his book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A one-pound box of prewashed lettuce contains 80 calories of food energy. According to Cornel ecologist David Pimentel, growing, chilling, washing, packing, and transporting that box of organic salad [from the West Coast] to a plate on the East Coast takes more than 4,600 calories of fossil fuel energy, or 57 calories of fossil fuel energy for every calorie of food. (These figures would be about 4 percent higher if the salad were grown conventionally.) [1] It is alarming, isn’t it? Especially since salad can be grown in Ontario throughout the winter, indoors in greenhouses or hoop houses. In fact, the salad in your boxes this week is a combination of field-grown greens and greens grown in our greenhouse. The greens are hand planted (using a non-motorized seeder), hand watered, and harvested by hand. The only transportation they go through is the short drive to your house – along with all your other produce – and the many other boxes in your area. Our salad is made up of a wide variety of greens for flavour, texture, colour, and nutrition. These include: Black Seeded Simpson, Buttercrunch, Little Gem, Lolita, Lolla Rosa, Garnet and Green Oakleaf, Paris Island Cos, Red Salad Bowl, Royal Oak Leaf, Ruby Streaks Mustard, Mizuna, Sorrel, Arugula, and Freckles Lettuce. You can make many of them out: Lolita is an intense burgundy with frilly edges, sweet and mild in flavour; Red Salad Bowl is oak-leaf shaped, green wit red edges; Ruby Streaks is a purple-maroon mustard, finely serrated with a sweet and pungent flavour; and Freckles is a romaine type lettuce with glossy green leaves and maroon splashes.

[1] Pollan, Michael. The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Penguin, 2006. Pg. 167.