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the greens party
exploring the hot lettuce of politics
by erik lars myers (@TopFermented)
9.15.08
pop culture


The U.S. is often referred to as a melting pot -- a steamy fondue of colorful cultural mixes that, through their ubiquitous individuality, make our country strong. I disagree. I think we're more like a salad. Sort of your ordinary house salad at a roadside restaurant: mixed greens, maybe a couple of croutons, some shredded carrot, a couple of slices of red onion, one whole cherry tomato, dressing on the side in a little plastic cup with "SOLO" printed on the lid. I'm not alone. The genius of the Republican machine has taken to calling fancy-pants, latte-drinking liberals the "arugula-eating" crowd, thereby bringing lettuce full-front into the cultural dialogue. Unfortunately, this unfairly casts arugula as the only real political lettuce. Poor maligned arugula. Many lettuces have political leanings. Indeed, there is even a long history of some leafy vegetables running for office, themselves.

I'm on the side of arugula. It shouldn't feel cast out and alone in a political world. Here is how some other leafy greens lean:

Iceberg Lettuce: Also called "Crisphead." Iceberg lettuce is largely considered to be the political opposite of Arugula. It is assumed that because Iceberg is very common and rather staid and boring that it must be conservative. Nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, it's actually as close as you can come to a moderate lettuce. It can go along with most things but tends to favor staying away from the extremes. It's a very issue-driven lettuce and will tend to lean, politically, with the party that presents its facts well rather than anything else.

Collards: Large, bitter with very low nutrional value. (One-quarter pound of collard greens has 46 calories.) It is the pundit of leafy greens. If you really want nutrients you need to drink the water the collards are cooked in, proving once again that once you remove something from context, it is essentially meaningless.

Kohlrabi: NOT the Jewish green. Kohlrabi, not Kohlrabbi. Yes, if you judged a book by its cover, you'd head down the road of convenient stereotypes and assume that kohlrabi was running Hollywood and making annoying farce comedies. Serves you right. Kohlrabi is actually a cultivar of wild cabbage -- as fiercely libertarian as you can get. It hates free highways and paying for your kids to go to school. Nobody knows the real number of underground kohlrabi militias, and we're probably all happier for it.

Spinach: Strong to the finach. Heavily unionized, working-class green. Spinach is more strongly associated with teamsters, dock workers, and sailor men than any other green. While it's often said that real men don't eat quiche, there are more quiches made with spinach than any other leafy green.

Kale: The hardcore hippie green. Rather than lettuce, kale is actually a type of cabbage. Its highly nutritious, a powerful antioxidant, an anti-inflammatory, and tastes like old socks. Kale uses solar panels and walks its own water up from the well. It drives a Prius and is wondering how to convert it to use biodiesel. Kale will write in a vote for Dennis Kucinich this fall.

Raddicchio: The real conservative green. In fact, it's not green at all. Its primary colors are white and red -- just like the GOP. Similarly, in order to maintain those colors, raddicchio is grown in the dark. It can be incredibly bitter, but mellows out if kept in the cold. Finally, the roots, while mostly harmless, contain small amounts of toxic oils that can cause retnial damage and dimmed vision if consumed in large quantities.

Romaine: Romaine is the political equivalent of the normal American. Both liberals and conservatives are known to eat Romaine and both feel they identify with it the most. Interestingly, Romaine feels exactly the same way and can't really come to terms with the fact that other leafy greens might have differing political beliefs than itself, therefore, they must be wrong. It isn't known for making the best choices, since, unlike Iceberg, tends to vote with its heart rather than its head.

Of course, like political discourse, there is a wide-spectrum of leafy greens, but to speculate upon all of them is to go into unnecessary detail, perhaps giving some fringe lettuces more attention than they're necessarily due.

Hopefully, the next time you eat a leafy green, you will pay more attention to the type of political message you're sending. It just might mean the election this fall.


ABOUT ERIK LARS MYERS

Writer, beer drinker, brewer. Not necessarily in the order. For more, check Top Fermented and Mystery Brewing Company.

more about erik lars myers

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COMMENTS

sandra thompson
9.15.08 @ 7:56a

A wonderful discourse upon greens, but I have one vegetarian bone to pick with you: collards are NOT bitter. The ones I cook are actually sweet. They're not as full-bodied as they used to be when I cooked with salt pork, but still delicious, particularly when served with fried chicken and potato salad.

erik myers
9.15.08 @ 8:15a

I'm going to make a confession, here. I've never eaten a collard in my life. I'm just going by what's written in literature. :)

alex b
9.15.08 @ 8:54a

I have a particular thing for Spinach leftover from Popeye days. And with some cherry tomato, red onion, and pancetta, my spinach thing is a really happy dinner.

alex b
9.15.08 @ 8:55a

And, since collards are part of soul food culture, methinks the hip-hop vote would be on the liberal side, eh?

lucy lediaev
9.15.08 @ 12:46p

Lovely piece. I'm waiting though for the kale fans to rise up and assault you. "Tastes like old socks" may be true, but those won't be welcome words for the kale cooks among us.

erik myers
9.15.08 @ 1:03p

There are kale fans?

lucy lediaev
9.15.08 @ 5:29p

At least one here. Search the boards for the references to kale!

adam kraemer
9.16.08 @ 11:52a

I'm calling racism. You deliberately neglected bok choy.

[edited]

erik myers
9.16.08 @ 12:05p

This is really about the kohlrabi, isn't it?



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