Next time you think about ordering a salad at a restaurant, consider this: It's probably not the healthiest choice for either you or the planet, writes Tamar Haspel in the Washington Post. According to one nutritional value index, lettuce, cucumbers, radishes, and celery are some of the lowest-ranking foods you can eat, thanks to the fact that they're almost entirely made up of water. And then, of course, there's the fact that many salads are just a bunch of "food that’s making us fat, but with a few lettuce leaves tossed in," Haspel writes. When you take the lettuce away, you're often left with a bunch of cheese, croutons, ranch dressing, and sometimes some "fried stuff" for good measure.
Salad is also not the greatest choice ecologically speaking—"it occupies precious crop acreage [and] requires fossil fuels to be shipped, refrigerated, around the world," not to mention it's incredibly wasteful (more than a billion pounds of salad veggies get tossed out per year). The same amount of money it would cost you to buy the fixings for a green salad could also buy you a lot of broccoli, sweet potatoes, collard greens, or other more nutritionally-dense veggies—and if we break our lettuce habit, we free up acreage to grow those instead. Haspel isn't planning to give up salad entirely, she writes, but with the world's population growing, we need to "start thinking about it as a resource-hungry luxury." Click for her full column. (Read more salad stories.)