Washing lettuce

In Cecil’s answer to whether dead vegetables excrete, I was surpised not to see him comment on the questioner’s mother’s assertion that iceberg lettuce doesn’t need to be washed because it is the one variety that does not contain sand.

Cece, you coulda educated the masses by reminding everyone to wash their veggies, even the organically grown ones, because they all have the potential to be awash in dirt, which most certainly has animal fecal mattter in it. And that stuff can give your GI tract some really nasty blue funk.

But the real reason I’m mentioning this is that I was not aware of this supposed characteristic of iceberg lettuce. Is this a widespread belief, or is Steven’s mother the only person (or one of the few) to have this belief?


I never washed lettuce until I got married last year. I’ve eaten salad for a long time and neither me nor anyone in my parent’s household has ever gotten ill from salad. I can’t confirm or deny any of the iceberg lettuce claims though. Maybe I’ve just been lucky.

I, too, wished Cecil would address the important questions: why was the lettuce bitter, and would rinsing the lettuce help.

In these parts, vegetables such as iceberg lettuce and celery are grown in light loam heavily turned with organic fertilizer (cow manure).

I would submit that the washing process might remove some of the gunk, thus reducing bitterness.

Just a guess.

I believe Cecil did answer the question in passing: dead plants rot. After even a few days, cell rupture, oxidation, and putrefaction bacteria will produce tiny amounts of the slime that is so typical of vegetables past their prime.