I don’t buy bagged double- or triple-wash salad in a bag but not be for the reasons you might assume.
It’s not because I’m overly concerned that bacteria might make it through all that pre-washing in a chlorinated bath (although tests conducted by Consumer Reports did find bacteria that are common indicators of poor sanitation). Show me any produce in any grocery store’s produce department that is 100% bacteria-free. Watching customers touch and test fresh produce is just one indicator.
It’s not the rumors of fecal contamination, when samples of all kinds of packaged greens from baby greens to spinach, traditional and organic were tested. As creepy as that is to think about, even Consumer Reports assures that the contamination falls within the FDA’s acceptable levels.
It’s not even my concerns about just how long ago these greens were cut and washed. Granted, I am not a fan of limp, brown-ish, tired-appearing romaine, iceberg lettuce, or cabbage. And even though I am a believer that once you wash, cut and prepare any kind of fresh produce—be it fruit or vegetables—the flavor and quality begin to degrade, that’s not it either.
It’s not any of those things that cause me to just walk on by that prepackaged section in my supermarket’s produce department.
The reason I don’t buy salad in a bag is the cost. Paying at least three times more to get my salad greens cut up, pre-washed, and then sealed in a plastic bag or box is too hard to swallow.
At my local supermarket, Dole Hearts of Romaine Salad Mix/10-ounce romaine lettuce mix in a bag is $3.59. One large head of romaine lettuce is $1.49 each, or $.93 for a 10-ounce equivalent.
As I’ve queried readers and friends on the bag versus bulk question, the overarching reason so many people go for the prepackaged, triple-washed, salad greens in a bag, is down to one thing: time. Bagged salads are convenient and so easy to grab and go.
(Ironically, nearly everyone I’ve chatted with admits to rewashing those bagged salad greens, just to be on the safe side. So where’s all the convenience in that?)
Last weekend I did my own time test. I shredded an entire head of green cabbage using a sharp knife. I chose cabbage for my test over Romaine lettuce because, well, I love cabbage.
I was done from washed-to-finish in 7 minutes. I ended up with a big bowl of beautiful, bright green, crunchy, fresh cabbage for our favorite coleslaw. It took another 5 minutes to make the awesome dressing. Total cost about $2, complete. Yum.
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Sweet Restaurant-Style Coleslaw
- 1 pound green cabbage, shredded
- 2 tablespoons diced sweet onion
- ¼ cup grated carrot
- ⅔ cup Miracle Whip, or mayonnaise is a fine substitute
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, or white vinegar
- ½ cup white granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds
- In a large bowl, combine cabbage, onion, and carrot.
- In a smaller bowl, whisk together Miracle Whip or mayonnaise, oil, sugar, vinegar, salt, pepper and poppy seeds.
- Pour dressing over cabbage mixture and toss to coat.
- Chill for 2 hours before serving.
If you still prefer to purchase prewashed salad greens, follow these tips:
- Buy packages as far from their use-by date as you can find.
- Even if the bag says “prewashed” or “triple-washed,” wash the greens yourself. Rinsing won’t remove all bacteria but may remove residual soil.
- Prevent cross-contamination by keeping greens away from raw meat.
Question: Do you buy pre-packaged greens that come in a bag or box? If so, do you rewash?