Lettuce is botanically recognised as Lactuca satvia from the family Asteraceae. It is perhaps, the world’s most popular green leaf salad vegetable. The milky solution that oozes from the crispy base end of lettuce was the rise of both the botanical (Latin) name for lettuce as well as the common name. “lac” is the Latin term for Milk.

Both the Ancient Egyptians and The Ancient Greeks have used lettuce throughout history. It was also cultivated in Rome. From These ancient origins, it is believed Christopher Columbous introduced Lettuce to other major parts of the world during his voyages.

Lettuce is used fresh and raw in most parts of the world, though the Chinese have several recipes for using it cooked. I was introduced to Chinese lettuce soup as a kid while watching a cooking program on TV.

There are several different types of lettuce used and grown commonly in many countries. Some green leaf vegetables such as Rocket and watercress are referred to as lettuce but are not true lettuce.

The two main groupings of lettuce are the “hearting” varieties such as iceberg and “loose leaf” such as Mesclun. Loose leaf is self-descriptive. Although hearting lettuces typically form a heart up to the size of a soccer ball, they can also be picked as the leaves develop.

Lettuce is commonly served on sandwiches and rolls with meats and other vegetables. Lettuce adds green to burgers and wraps and is common on burgers sold at fast food restaurants.

Large lettuce leaves make excellent wraps for holding grated carrot, cheese, boiled egg and tomato. It makes an ideal alternative to bread or wraps.

Lettuce juice is popular amongst diehard health focused people, but I prefer it as a food with other vegetable leaves such as mixed salads.

Lettuce is high in nutrients and contains very few calories. It is high in water and ideal for anyone on a lot fat intake diet. There are no known extraordinary health benefits of lettuce but it is believed to assist with filtration of the blood and providing a bulk for clearer bowel elimination.

Wilted lettuce in the refrigerator can be brought back to life by soaking in a dish of water with a couple of ice blocks. Lettuce should be consumed within a few days of picking for ultimate freshness, its easy to grow in the garden so you can pick leaves off as you need them.

There are all year varieties that can handle most climatic conditions except snow and drought. Soil should be fertile and free draining. Lettuce can be mulched with old grass hay or pea straw.

Author's Bio: 

Eric J. Smith is an Experienced Horticulturalist with a keen interest in Organic Gardening. Eric's interest in Organics also shows in his interest in Organic Nutrition and Organic Skincare. More information can be found on these by visiting his websites http://www.buy-organic-products.com/health/ or http://www.lifestyle-health-services.com. Subscribe to Eric's FREE Health and Organic Newsletters via these websites.