Posted September 26, 2014
Local Lettuce in the Salad Bar
Local lettuce is an easy-to-integrate local food, providing an opportunity to highlight more nutritious, delicious and attractive salad options. John Ayer of Brattleboro Union High School has been using a few simple techniques to increase local lettuce purchasing, and more importantly, doubling sales and profits of salads.
Name: Brattleboro Union High School
Foodservice Type: Cafe Services, Inc
Location: Brattleboro, Vermont
Proximity to Farmland: <1/2 mile
Daily Meals: 500 lunches per day
Number of Salads Sold: 50
Local lettuce is straightforward and profitable! Here are two great ways to integrate local lettuce:
1) Add value to your own salad mix:
- Add some artisan salad mix ($25 for 3 pounds)
- Use a few different kinds of lettuce
2) Chop your own lettuce:
- Local organic head lettuce: $30 for 24 heads green or red leaf romaine
- Prep time (24 heads—20 pounds): 45 minutes active time including spinning
- Compared to pre-chopped, labor adds about $10 to total cost of head lettuce. If you already buy head lettuce, then you should have no real increase in costs.
There are many reasons to use local head lettuce:
- Local organic head lettuce, chopped: $35 for 15 pounds
- Conventional romaine blend, chopped: $37 for 12 pounds
- Chopped Lettuce often browns quicker than chop-to-use head lettuce and goes to waste
- Quality/taste is better from fresh chopped
Local lettuce mixes and head lettuce are regularly available April to November through most local distributors. Note that pricing varies seasonally and regionally.
A salad spinner is a critical piece of equipment. The spinner we purchased cost approximately $125.
It's definitely possible to make a little effort and system change for a big reward with lettuce.
Food Connects is a nonprofit organization based in Brattleboro, Vermont. Their mission is to cultivate healthy farm and food connections in classrooms, cafeterias and communities.