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Lettuce - Superfood from a Mysterious Past?
The Fertile Crescent. Every time I read these three words in the same sentence as the origin of plant foods, my brain lights up! Why?
Because plant foods such as lettuce found to originate from the Fertile Crescent,1,1a,1b are certain to have originated somewhere else – in the pre Flood world! See what I mean? Did your brain light up?
So often today, we look at our food through a modern lens, “What do we have in the fridge to eat?” “What will the farmer’s market have for sale this Sunday?” “Lettuce is good for our health because it’s a vegetable.” Or perhaps we look at a seed catalogue and think a lettuce variety is an heirloom because it is 50-100 years old.
That "heirloom" lettuce variety is a mere infant when you consider the seeds we sow today can be traced all the way back to a plant grown in the Fertile Crescent, having arrived in Noah’s Ark from a pre-Flood world full of mystery and intrigue? That’s pretty amazing to me!
Lettuce Seed brought from a pre-Flood world
“In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights. In the selfsame day entered Noah, and Shem, and Ham and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah’s wife, and the three wives of his sons with them, into the ark.”2
Just imagine the precious lettuce seed being stored aboard Noah’s Ark. I like to think all the precious seeds were stored in special compartments, away from “...every beast after his kind, and all the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind, and every fowl after his kind, every bird of every sort.” Genesis 7:142
And then imagine the earnest prayers that Noah and his family must have sent heavenward when they first stepped outside the ark on the mountains of Ararat, in a part of our world we now call the Middle East. What did they see? Cataclysmic changes to the landscape.
You see, the sky would have been grey, with very little direct sunlight, and this may have continued for many years to come. This could have been a consequence of plumes of ash shooting high into the atmosphere, forming a sulphurous cloud cover, much as the modern world experienced with the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991 when ash shot 34 kilometres straight up into the earth’s atmosphere.3
In Noah’s post Flood world, the climate had changed, there were now seasons and rain, warm and cold, which Noah and his family were not used to. The soil, would have sunk the heart of any food farmer, just like those we see after a flood in our modern times – totally unsuitable for growing crops until some drying had taken place. Then, and only then could the land be worked into some kind of growing medium. I even read somewhere that the colour of the sky was different in the pre-Flood world.
So many changes for eight surviving souls to adapt to. Thankfully, they were not alone, as they had faith in God, and no doubt were thankful God had saved them for a special purpose - to re-establish humanity and civilisation with no evil. But that's another story you can read about in The King and His Son - Book 2 - Earth Invaded by Evil. It's free to download by the way.
21st Century Lettuce
So, here we are today, with hundreds of lettuce varieties at our finger tips. Almost everyone in the 21st century can grow some form of lettuce, in a pot on a window sill, or a tray of micro greens, a container on a front step, or in a patch of soil. But did you know each and every variety of lettuce, nicely and quickly grown, that’s kept well watered in balanced soil, has a different flavour? This is true, and different lettuces can be described by mouth feel, flavour, colours and form. And if each variety has different flavours, then that’s a BIG hint that each lettuce variety has a different blend of nutrients!
Of course, until our taste buds are cleansed of additives, preservatives, and highly sweet foods, there can be difficulty in tasting the fine and delicate plant flavours. This is simply because additives, preservatives and sugar hijack the tastebuds. It’s true. So put down that packet of biscuits you were about to enjoy with your cup of dandelion coffee!
What's Good About Lettuce?
But why was lettuce seed worth saving, storing and bringing in Noah’s Ark?
Lettuce is a cleanser. So helps to keep our bodies healthy and clean thanks to a variety of plant phenols. Plant phenols such as beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin in lettuce, are the mysterious and magical properties in plants that help to cleanse our bodies and neutralise free radicals.4 And in turn free radicals are really just lonely thieves, trying to steal from others to benefit themselves – the plant phenols soon sort them out by giving the free radicals what they are after.
Lettuce is good for the blood, brain and nervous system. Lettuce, grown well, is a source of folate. Folate is used in the human body for reproduction of red blood cells in the bone marrow, for brain function and for a healthy nervous system.4
Lettuce is beneficial for skin, hair and nails. Lettuce is a great source of silica, even the iceberg lettuce, the lettuce which is rounded like a ball, with whitish crisp leaves wrapped around each other. A nice little lettuce and carrot juice is said to help hair grow, if taken three times a week. The recipe I read was 120 ml of lettuce juice with 50 ml of carrot juice. Organically grown please (more on that in the next column).4
Lettuce contains a fatty acid we often associate with fish – yes, lettuce contains omega 3, which is hugely beneficial for so many optimal body and mind functions! Better vision, less depression and anxiety, better brain health, less inflammation, improved cardiovascular processes to name just a few benefits of omega 3!5
Lettuce is high in cellulose and water, and this means better digestion, better peristalsis (the wave like motion of broken down food through the intestines) and helpful for constipation.4
Every single lettuce leaf is a source of health saving bacteria. It's true. One of my health heroes Dr Dietrich Klinghardt is adamant that foraging for fresh green leaves in a garden or in the (clean) wild is vital every day for health in the chemically dirty 21st century.6 These health saving bacteria are locked onto the leaf with a biofilm, and not easily washed off, which is great news!
Can’t get to sleep? Relax, lettuce taken as a medicinal snack, especially Romaine (also known as Cos lettuce) before bedtime is said to induce a sounder sleep.7 And more research showed even better sleep was possible, if a Romaine lettuce extract was combined with an extract made from a herb called skullcap, according to a study published in 2018.8
Love lettuces green colours? You are noticing the chlorophyll, that’s the green colour, part of the process of the photosynthesis, a process where the plant absorbs sunlight and converts it into carbohydrates to feed plant growth.9 Actually I find chlorophyll quite amazing. The fact I like the best is this:
“Chlorophyll has a nearly identical structure to human blood. Chlorophyll is based on a magnesium atom, blood is based on an iron atom, apart from that, they are identical. Green leafy vegetables will help your blood system to regenerate.”4
How Much Lettuce?
The thing is this, two or three lettuce leaves in a sandwich once a day, is a good start, but raise your sights higher! For all the benefits above, be creative and courageous and find ways to use lettuce more often! My aim as our family’s nutrient manager (my self-appointed new title) is to have a really large salad at least once a day. Sometimes that doesn’t happen for one reason or another, and then I crave greens!
In the next of this series on Lettuce, I’m hoping that you dear reader, might be able to pick up a little something from our lettuce growing experiences in 12 different garden soils, in three different countries, in the last 24 years! Then I’m really excited to introduce you to my favourite lettuce, the seed is available all over the world, and the plants thrive and survive almost every season of the year!
May God keep you in His care until we meet again.
1. De Vries, I.M. (1997). Origin and domestication of Lactuca sativa L. Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution 44: 165–174, 1997. Retrieved from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A:1008611200727
1 (a). Comenaranjas. (n.d.) Lettuce. Retrieved from https://www.comenaranjas.com/en/shop/lettuce-g
1(b)Sturtevant, E.L. (n.d.). A Study of Garden Lettuce. Retrieved from https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/pdfplus/10.1086/274186
3. Reuters. (2016). Survivors remember Pinatubo eruption. https://news.abs-cbn.com/nation/regions/06/15/16/survivors-remember-pinatubo-eruption
4. Koch, U.K. (2007). Laugh with health. Tauranga, New Zealand. Zealand Publishing House.
5. Hjalmarsdottir,, F. (October 2018). 17 Science-Based Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/17-health-benefits-of-omega-3
6. Bee's Blog. (September 2018). Dr Dietrich Klinghardt...Glyphosate is even worse than we thought. Retrieved from https://merribeeorganicfarm.blogspot.com/2018/
7. Kim, H.D., Hong, KB., Noh, D.O. et al. (June 2017). Sleep-inducing effect of lettuce (Lactuca sativa) varieties on pentobarbital-induced sleep. Food Sci Biotechnol (2017) 26: 807. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10068-017-0107-1
8. Ki-Bae Hong, Sung Hee Han, Yooheon Park, Hyung Joo Suh, Hyeon-Son Choi. (December 2017). Romaine Lettuce/Skullcap Mixture Improves Sleep Behavior in Vertebrate Models. Romaine Lettuce/Skullcap Mixture Improves Sleep Behavior in Vertebrate Models. Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin. https://doi.org/10.1248/bpb.b18-00267
9. Mercola.com (n.d.). Chlorophyll: How to Get This Valuable Nutrient From Your Diet. https://articles.mercola.com/vitamins-supplements/chlorophyll.aspx
Posted: Thu 04 Jul 2019