“Slatepitch” was coined sometime around 2009 after the online magazine Slate published an article claiming that the band Creed was “severely underrated.” In essence, the phrase refers to a ridiculous proclamation where the author stakes out a comically contrarian position for seemingly the sole purpose of attracting clicks. It has been parodied extensively on Twitter, with some proposing such future Statepitch articles like “Soccer: It’s time to let players use their hands”, and “Windows Vista: Simply Ahead of Its Time?”.
A few weeks ago the practice was put to use by a seemingly respectable publication: The Washington Post. As the parent company of Slate, the mother ship published an article titled “Why Salad is So Overrated.” Californians eat more salad than probably anyone in the world, so I couldn’t help but take the bait and respond to every claim made by writer Tamar Haspel.
Haspel first claims that salad is overrated because salad vegetables are low in nutrition. Specifically, lettuce is mostly water and therefore offers very little else. The irony behind this claim is that it is criticizing lettuce for not being calorie dense enough.
Caloric density is not a positive.
Dense, low moisture foods like Pringles are bad precisely because they provide too many calories in too few bites. On the other hand, high water foods like watermelon, strawberries, and yes lettuce are known to deliver the most nutrition per calorie. Furthermore, the water in lettuce and other vegetables is held in cell walls made of fiber, along with vitamins like K and A. In an era of runaway obesity, the fiber helps one feel full without delivering too many calories. Since it provides a feeling of fullness, it displaces poorer eating choices, like feeling hungry and pigging out on the aforementioned Pringles.
If that wasn’t enough, consider that wine and beer are also “mostly water”. Are we really willing to live in a world where we stigmatize certain foods simply because of their high water content?
Second, Haspel claims that salad tricks people into making bad food choices because what passes for salad nowadays can be high in calories. The claim can be summed up as follows: salad is bad because some people and some restaurants stupidly choose to douse it with a ladle of ranch dressing.
By that logic, the following foods are also to be avoided at all cost: tomatoes because they can be turned into vodka cream sauce; collard greens because they can be baked or fried in lard; and carrots because they can be dipped in yes, also ranch dressing. The versatility of salad, the ability to turn it into a high calorie, high fat meal on a dime, if anything makes it underrated. Too many people assume that salad is a dieter’s food, but it doesn’t have to be.
Finally, Haspel argues that lettuce is one of the top sources of food waste in America. Choosing not to eat something because a lot of it is thrown out due to spoilage is a little ridiculous. Instead, we should focus on easy solutions that let us continue to consume salad without the spoilage. For example, in California, romaine, arugula, and butter lettuce can be grown year round at little expense. Most greens can even be grown indoors in pots.
While not writing slatepitch articles calling salad a “resource-hungry luxury,” Tamar Haspel farms the ultimate luxury food item: Cape Cod oysters. At just over 7 calories, oysters sell for over $1 apiece. They provide very little nutrition at an outrageous expense. They can be breaded and fried and turned into a high calorie fat delivery mechanism. Like all seafood, they are highly perishable and often discarded due to spoilage, after traveling half way across the country in a CO2 spewing plane. Perhaps next time Haspel chooses to claim that a food item is overrated, she should look in the mirror first.