Spring is in the air and summer is approaching. The crock pot is about to start collecting dust and the grill will be in full force. Fresh veggies and lettuce at last! What better way to celebrate than go right to the source?
I was lucky enough to be a guest of the Dole Salad’tude Summit last week in Monterey, CA. Mingling amidst bloggers extraordinaire, I learned first hand the field to consumer process of growing, harvesting and selling lettuce. While Dole is often thought of for its pineapple, they are no stranger to lettuce.
The trip began last Wednesday, or at least it was supposed to. I had the unfortunate luck of some bad travel: dents in the plane, deboarding, reboarding, missed connections and a seven hour “layover” in Phoenix, bringing me to Monterey at 10:00 pm. Therefore, the lovely reception and dinner at the Sardine Factory in Monterey, I only saw via Twitter from the other bloggers. But I made it!
The following morning we started bright and early, traveling to Dole headquarters and having a roundtable discussion on new Dole lettuce products, roundtable discussion and salad tastings. We all agreed that kale is all the rage, people are less inclined to use iceberg lettuce and we all like to eat one dish meals. We tasted a variety of their bagged salads. I have to admit that I typically do not buy much bagged lettuce or pre-packaged salads, but this trip may have helped me turn a leaf. These products are fresh and carefully grown and packaged to ensure we are getting the best product possible. Since Wisconsin only allows a small spattering of local produce for about half the year, these are a great alternative.
While Dole is yet to delve into organic agriculture, they use as little pesticides as they can to supply a fresh and crispy product. We were all very pleased to find out that 85% of their lettuce has 0% traceability to pesticide. So if you don’t want to spring for organic lettuce, feel okay about it!
We dined for lunch on an eclectic mix of greens and veggies at La Bicyclette in Carmel-by-the-Sea. Carrot risotto was the hit of the meal (look for a recreate from me in the future) as well as butternut squash and lamb sausage wood-fired pizzas.
We toured the lettuce farms and Dole processing plant in Salinas Valley which was a beautiful site to behold. Fields upon fields of fresh greenery. It was wonderful to see where your food comes from, and to feel great about it. The lettuce straight out of the field was delicious.
Next week I will fill you in on our innovative salad party and some ideas for you to try at home!
I met some wonderful people on this trip. A great smattering of food-loving bloggers from all over North America. Check out a few of these great blogs!
More links and some great recipes to follow next week! An extra special thanks to Dole for such a wonderful event.
Disclaimer: Dole provided transportation, lodging and meals for the Summit, however, all the opinions of the event are completely my own.