Lettuce varieties are vast, from the crispy Iceberg and the frilly Lollo Rosso to the buttery Boston and the elongated Romaine. Each variety has its texture, taste, and preferred culinary application. While lettuce is mostly water, it also provides essential nutrients, including vitamin K, vitamin A, and folate.
In Alberta, the climate poses challenges for year-round outdoor cultivation. However, farmers employ various techniques, like using high tunnels, greenhouses, and cold frames, to extend the growing season. In recent years, hydroponic farming—a soil-less method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions in water—has gained popularity in Alberta, allowing for year-round lettuce cultivation in controlled environments.
Lettuce has ancient roots, with records of its cultivation dating back to ancient Egypt. It spread across Europe and later to the Americas, becoming a dietary staple in various cultures.
Alberta's agricultural history is rich, with grains traditionally dominating the landscape. But as the province's farming community grew and diversified, so did its crop repertoire, and lettuce found its place. Over the years, as consumers became more health-conscious and demand for fresh, local produce rose, Alberta's farmers responded. The province now boasts numerous local markets and farm-to-table initiatives, with Alberta-grown lettuce being a proud component.
While lettuce is commonly associated with salads, its versatility goes beyond:
- Salads: The most common use, where it's mixed with other veggies, proteins, and a dressing.
- Wraps: Large lettuce leaves, especially from varieties like Romaine, can be used as a low-carb wrap alternative.
- Grilled: Lettuce, particularly Romaine hearts, can be halved and briefly grilled for a smoky flavor.
- Stir-fries: In some cuisines, lettuce is briefly stir-fried, offering a wilted yet crunchy texture.
- Sandwiches & Burgers: Used as a fresh layer, adding crunch and freshness.
- Juices & Smoothies: For those looking for a green boost, lettuce can be blended into drinks.
- Soups: While less common, some cultures incorporate lettuce into brothy soups, especially toward the end of cooking to retain some crispness.
For those in Alberta and regions with similar climates, when buying local lettuce, it's good to remember that the freshness is unparalleled, given the short transit time from farm to table. Keeping lettuce refrigerated and consuming it shortly after purchase ensures it retains its crispness and nutritional value.
Reclaim Organics (reclaim urban farm), Range Road 12, Mulhurst, AB, Canada
Lunds Organic Farm
Lund's Organic Farm, Innisfail, AB, Canada
Hidden Valley Garden
Hidden Valley Garden, 1271 Township Road 392, Red Deer County, AB, Canada
Maple Park Farm
Maple Park Farm, Township Road 502, Tofield, AB, Canada
Vertical Roots Canada, 31 Avenue Northwest, Edmonton, AB, Canada
Big Marble Farms
Big Marble Farms, Range Road 63, Cypress County, AB, Canada
Broxburn Vegetables & Cafe, Lethbridge County, AB, Canada
Red Hat Co-Operative Ltd, 809 Broadway Ave NE, Redcliff, AB, Canada
Grey Arrow Farm
Grey Arrow Farm, Camrose, AB, Canada
Grandpa Carson's Farm
grandpacarsonsfarm, Range Road 25, Parkland County, AB, Canada
Erdmann's Gardens & Greenhouses
Erdmann's Gardens & Grnhse, Range Road 233, Vimy, AB, Canada
Homesteader Farms, Yellowhead County, Township Road 563A, Yellowhead County, AB, Canada
Prairie Gardens, Lily Lake Road, Bon Accord, AB, Canada
Deepwater Farms, 50 Ave SE, Calgary, AB, Canada
The Jungle Farm
The Jungle Farm, Township Road 362, Red Deer County, AB, Canada
The Saskatoon Farm, 338 Avenue East, Foothills County, AB, Canada
Gull Valley Greenhouses
Gull Valley Greenhouses, Range Road 283, Lacombe County, AB, Canada