With more people looking to eat healthily and with the growing popularity of vegetarian and vegan foods, salad is now so much more than a garnish on a plate.

Steve Rothwell

Steve Rothwell

One man who knows a thing or two about salad leaves is pioneering salad farmer Dr Steve Rothwell, the man behind funky salad brand Steve’s Leaves (www.stevesleaves.co.uk) and the first person in the UK to have a PhD in watercress – yes really!

Together with his team of Hampshire based salad farmers, Steve has introduced a wide variety of salad leaves to the UK, including rocket, baby spinach and pea shoots.

Today Steve’s Leaves prides itself on its unique and delicious salads, which are washed in spring water, produced to high environmental standards and available in handy, convenient small bags to reduce waste. Steve’s Leaves is available to enjoy from Waitrose, Ocado and independent foodie outlets like Wholefoods.

Here Steve shares ten things you might not know about salad

  1. Often dubbed the original superfood, watercress was the first bagged salad sold in 1976
  2. Nowadays we’re used to being able to pick up salad that is washed and ready to eat in bags, bowls and with an assortment of other ingredients. But did you know, the first washed and ready to eat baby leaf salad wasn’t launched until 1988! We’ve come a long way since then
  3. It’s one of the most popular salad leaves around, but when salad rocket first launched in the late 90s, retailers were worried it was too hot for UK palates so it was sold in tiny 25g punnets to help Brits acclimatise to the spicy flavour
  4. Salad consumption is increasing year on year as more people recognise the health benefits and easy meals they can create with salad leaves
  5. Although salad is often associated with warmer weather, Christmas is one of the other most popular times of the year for salad consumption
  6. You are better to tear your salad leaves than you are to cut them with a knife. Tearing the leaves helps preserve the nutrients better as cells separate rather than be cut open
  7. Hampshire, the home of Steve’s Leaves, is also the watercress capital of the UK. In the Victorian era, the rail service from Alresford to London hauled so much watercress it was nicknamed the watercress line. Once the watercress reached London, it was sold in cones…a bit like popcorn. 
  8. Salad comes from the Latin word ‘herba salta’ or salted herbs, so called because greens were originally seasoned with dressings containing lots of salt
  9. Caesar salad is said to have been devised in Tijuana in 1924 by Italian chef Caesar Cardini
  10. The Waldorf salad was devised by Oscar Tschirky, who was the maitre d’hotel of the New York Waldorf Astroria hotel in the 1890s

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