Saturday, March 28, 2015

Lettuce Trees. By Ninnevah

Let me tell you about the muffin man, I mean the lettuce trees. They were introduced to this region in the early 18 hundreds when there was a shortage of fresh vegetables. Diseases like scurvy and other vitamin deficiencies were widespread as the population relied on cattle and sheep for their main dietary intake. When lettuce seeds were introduced people were expecting the typical round iceberg type from Iceland, with the crisp white leaves. But instead what started to grow was the long lanky oval looking lettuce with green flaky leaves. A widely accepted theory is that this was due to the seeds being squashed while at the bottom of someone's bag while enduring the three month ship ride from England. 
A farmer decided to market these weirdly shaped lettuce heads as part of a genetically modified crop, claiming that since it had a larger percentage of the leaves being green, so it contained a larger percentage of vitamin g. People were ready to believe that something so simple was an easy cure to their diseases, farming of these oval shaped lettuces picked up and overtook the market of the traditional iceberg lettuce. 
With the introduction of modern science, it was shown that vitamin g was actually a hoax or just a marketing scheme which had caused the widespread acceptance and even preference of the oval lettuce heads. 
At this stage a research paper was published stating the harmful effects of the incorrectly named vitamin g, which actually was a toxin that affected a specific liver protein causing early liver failure. Eventually people switched back to the old fashioned Icelandic lettuce heads and the oval ones were only bought and eaten occasionally for its nostalgic taste.
Nowadays it is difficult to find this type of lettuce as people have become more health conscious and aware. Recently though there have been some sightings of "lettuce trees" which look very similar to this almost extinct species. The only difference is that instead of being up to 30 cm tall, these trees are known to grow up to 30 m high. Could almost compete with pine trees as windbreakers when planted in a row.

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