The CDC and the FDA have called off the warning against consuming romaine lettuce after a nationwide E. Coli outbreak.
Yet Another Romaine Outbreak
Contaminated lettuce grown in the Salinas Valley of California was shipped across the country, leading to 167 reported cases of E. Coli infection in 27 states.
85 of those people were hospitalized, and 15 of them developed kidney failure. Thankfully, no one died from the outbreak. But it raised questions about how we grow and consume romaine lettuce.
The FDA lifted its consumer advisory against eating romaine, but not because the problem had actually been solved. Instead, they claimed that because “the growing season for this region is over … there is no longer a need for consumers to avoid it.”
That means the same conditions causing the outbreak this year could still be in effect in 2020. The area in Salinas, California, where the romaine was grown had been tainted by nearby cattle ranches. Contaminated water supply spread the E. Coli throughout the farmland.
Unfortunately, the way lettuce is bagged and sold to consumers means that even a localized contamination could be spread throughout the entire supply of romaine. While it’s been declared safe to eat this type of lettuce again, you might consider swapping out some alternatives in your diet.
Tasty Alternatives to Romaine
Although romaine lettuce has become the go-to salad base for many restaurants and bagged mixes, there are tons of alternate leafy greens to try instead. In fact, many of these alternatives are better for you and (arguably) tastier than romaine.
- Kale: Anyone who thinks kale is nasty probably hasn’t tried it yet. Kale is versatile, packed with vitamins, antioxidants and fiber.
- Spinach: Delicious both raw and cooked, spinach should be a staple in your leafy green rotation. Dress it with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and a little Parmesan for a simple, delicious side salad.
- Arugula: Want a little zing in your salad? Arugula is a spicy green that adds an unexpected flavor punch.
- Collard Greens: A staple of Southern cooking, collards are making their way into the mainstream thanks to their high concentration of vitamins and minerals. They’re also packed with protein!
- Chard: Chard is a great source of vitamin K and iron, as well as calcium. Plus it’s visually pleasing with brightly colored stems of red or yellow.
- Bok Choy: Although it’s a traditional ingredient in many Chinese dishes, bok choy is great for all types of cuisine. Finely shredded bok choy is great in chopped salads.