TOOMEY: Anyone can look back on their more innocent salad days, but to reminisce about lettuce days you'll have to visit Yuma, Arizona. The self-proclaimed Winter Lettuce Capital of the World is celebrating its showcase crop this week at the annual Lettuce Days Festival. The growing season in this corner of the Southwest is virtually year-round, with the Colorado River providing water to the fertile Yuma Valley. It's the perfect place to grow those popular greens called Lactuca sativa. Lettuce cultivation began thousands of years ago throughout the Mediterranean region. Rome's first emperor, Caesar Augustus, even erected a statue to the verdant plant after recovering his health thanks to a diet of lettuce. Ancient Romans did eat lettuce with dressing, but Caesar salad was actually invented in the early 1900s in Tijuana, Mexico. Lettuce itself has very few calories, though it does supply a fair amount of Vitamin A. Iceberg, romaine, Bibb, Bostoner, looseleaf...Americans eat an average of 30 pounds of the green stuff each year. That's an awful lot of salad or BLTs. And with thanks to Clive's Jive Five, that's this week's Living on Earth Almanac.
(Music up and under: "Well, the moral of this is plain to see. If you don't want your lettuce, give it to me. I want the lettuce boogie. Lettuce boogie. Got to give me that lettuce. Lettuce boogie. Well, you know what I mean. It's so green...")
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