Goodness Greeness, it's living lettuce!

By Jack Mans on December 31, 2006

With the demand for organic produce on the rise, Goodness Greeness, Chicago, has introduced organic living lettuce, the latest innovation in produce, to the Midwest marketplace. Organic living lettuce is a hydroponic line of lettuce that is packaged for consumers with the roots still intact. The roots rest in a soil plug, allowing for a shelf life of up to 18 days. This process provides a lifeline to be maintained within the soil plug in the package, permitting moisture and nutrients from the greenhouse to supply continued nourishment to the living lettuce. Unlike conventional lettuce that begins to wilt after just a day or two and needs to be rehydrated on the grocers' shelves, organic living lettuce remains at peak freshness in its clamshell container.

Organic living lettuce is available in five varieties: arugula, green leaf lettuce, red leaf lettuce, Boston lettuce and watercress. All five varieties are distributed exclusively throughout Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin by Goodness Greeness. "There are a surprising number of benefits to these innovative new greens," says Robert Scaman, president and CEO of Goodness Greeness. "First, they are available year-around and are not subject to changes in availability due to bad weather. Second, they are consistently fresh, due to the controlled growing environment. Third, the price is stable and doesn't fluctuate as the price of traditional greens do based on availability."

In its quest to seek out the most unique and healthiest organic produce, Goodness Greeness found Slegers Greenhouse, an organic farm and greenhouse operation in Strathroy, ON. Slegers is a premier grower of organic living lettuce in North America and meets the stringent standards of the Canadian National Standard and the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture National Organic Program (NOP). It is certified by OCPP (Organic Crop Producers & Processors)/Pro-Cert Canada, Inc., a foremost Canadian certifier of organic food products.

The greens are grown in a hydroponic medium for about eight weeks at Slegers Greenhouse, where organic nutrients are added throughout the process of growth. The greens are harvested with their roots intact and are packaged with a peat root-ball in a Produce Marketing Assn. (www.pma.com) approved plastic clamshell container. The Goodness Greeness label is applied, after which the clamshells are cartoned, palletized and shipped to Goodness Greeness. The clamshells are supplied by Tri-City Packaging, Ltd. (www.tricitypackaging.com).

When the lettuce is packaged, it is not rinsed, allowing for all of the protective cuticles on the leaves to remain intact. In addition, since the lettuce is living, it is able to resist e-coli infection as long as the produce is alive and the ecology process is being maintained. "I believe organic produce boasts a greater vigor over conventional produce," says Jo Sleger, of Slegers Greenhouse. "Organic has a better balance of nutrition than conventional products, and when consumers try organic living lettuce over conventional lettuce, they taste the difference and appreciate the longer shelf life.

"Goodness Greeness was one of my first customers, taking the plunge early-on in the development of my greenhouse. From there, I've seen a steady increase in organic produce based on repeat sales to many customers in small volumes. It is definitely on the rise."

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We are starting an organic produce greenhouse. Can you direct me to a packaging company that produces the clamshells where you can grow lettuce in and ship to our customers. Please contact me at cvarga06@yahoo.com