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Spring Mixes

Spring. It evokes the image of freshly harvested food. It reminds us that it is the beginning of the fresh produce season. Many green leafy vegetables are traditionally harvested around springtime. This is why spring diet has become synonymous with eating green, leafy salad because there is an abundant supply for this during spring. This inspired the idea of making and selling a spring mix. This is a combination of different leafy vegetables mixed together in a bag.

Spring Mix Trivia

  • A “spring mix” suggests this product is available only in the spring, but that is not true. Thanks to growers who can produce erstwhile seasonal produce all year long, spring mixes are now produced all year long.
  • A spring mix is delicious and healthy. The only criticism it gets is that because it is available all year long, the novelty of being available only during a particular time of the year is lost. People love spring mixes nonetheless. An online article mentioned that the sale of spring mixes improved in 2019.
  • Spring mix is also known as mixed baby greens, mesclun mix, field greens, and wild green mix.
  • Despite the name, spring mix is available all year long, but the season or time of the year still affects what gets included in the mix.

Spring Mix Buying Guide

A spring mix contains a type of lettuce, something from the Brassica family, the Chenopodium family, the Cichorium family, some herbs, and other vegetables like dandelion or purslane. This is great if you want to have a fresh garden salad featuring green leafy vegetables with a variety of complementary tastes (sweet and slightly bitter) and textures.

Buying spring mix in a box means instant lunch at work or school.

Spring mix is a good choice if you want to have a salad and not buy each ingredient separately. The downside is if you have to make do with what you get from the pack. To remedy this, consider buying a pack of your favorite greens to add to the mix.

Don’t be confused if the produce aisle has spring mix, salad mix, spring salad mix, and Mesclun. These are generally the same products with very minimal variations. Even Mesclun, which originated in Provence, France, is already being used in North America to refer to spring or salad mixes.

What’s important is the ingredients. While a spring mix has a base or basic set of ingredients, the addition of more leafy greens and vegetables is what differentiates one company’s spring mix from another brand.

So when buying a bag or pack of spring mix and you have many options, read the label to see what’s inside. Variety is not always better. Look at the leafy greens and assess the condition of the vegetables. Are they still firm and appear crunchy when you eat them? Pick those that appear the freshest of the lot because it is not worth buying a spring mix that gives you soggy or wilted leaves.

If you see an organic spring mix, choose this. Organic food is produced without pesticides and chemicals.

Put this in your shopping cart towards the end of your shopping, just before you head for the counter. This way, the bag of spring mix spends very little time away from the freezer so there is very little threat of the vegetables deteriorating in higher temperatures. This strategy is also useful in keeping the bag from being crushed by other heavier items in the shopping cart.

Spring Mix Production & Farming in Texas

There are areas in Texas that can produce the ingredients needed for a spring mix all year long. According to Dallas-based nursery and gardening business North Haven Gardens, year-round vegetable gardening is manageable in places like North Texas. To make a spring mix, different green leafy vegetables are collected, cleaned, trimmed, and packed in produce-safe packaging. These are transported to different points of sale like groceries and supermarkets, where these are stored and displayed. Spring mixes need to be in a temperature-controlled environment at all times to make sure the leaves stay fresh for as long as possible.  

TexasRealFood has a listing of Texas businesses that make and sell spring mixes. Try  Good Tilth Farm & Nursery in Irving, Texas; Leaf Safari in Frisco, Texas; and Nature’s HeartLand Farm in Waring, Texas.

Production of ingredients for spring mix in Texas varies from the small backyard production for the local farmers market to bigger commercial production meant for distribution in and outside of Texas.

Pesticides:

Many companies that produce spring mixes promise consumers that the green, leafy vegetables are cleaned and washed thoroughly to remove any trace of chemicals and other contaminants. This is important because commercial growers still rely on pesticides and other chemicals to produce enough quality vegetables fit for public sale and export. 

To know what kind of chemicals might be in your spring mix, it is important to know the common pests that attack these plants and the chemicals farmers typically use to protect the plants from being ravaged.

  • Aphids – Kill aphids using neem oil, insecticidal soap, or horticultural oil. You can also use the pesticide malathion, which is the most commonly used organophosphate insecticide in the United States, or rotenone, a selective, non-specific insecticide typically used in home gardens for insect control.
  • Beetles – The use of man-made pesticide carbaryl or Beauveria bassiana is the solution to rid of beetles. Other options include pyrethroid insecticides like cyfluthrin and Lambda cyhalothrin, pesticide malathion, pyrethrin spray, permethrin insecticide, and spinosad.
  • Borers – Use man-made pesticide carbaryl, broad-spectrum, pyrethroid-based insecticides like permethrin, or the pyrethroid insecticide bifenthrin to fight borers.
  • Bugs – To kill bugs, use derris or pyrethrum spray. Synthetic options include pyrethroids or malathion. although this will also kill pod bugs’ natural enemies like mantids (praying mantis), spiders, and wasps. Use broad-spectrum, pyrethroid-based insecticides like permethrin. The only disadvantage is the potential to kill bees and other beneficial insects as well. Farmers also use insecticidal soap or botanicals. Neem oil or pyrethrin may prove helpful. Bug sprays are effective against this pest. Use man-made pesticide carbaryl to rid of bugs. You can use 70% isopropyl alcohol or apple cider vinegar.
  • Leafminer – Use spinosad against leafminers.
  • Loopers – To kill this pest, use Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) spray, insecticidal soap spray, or anti-parasite spray spinosad.
  • Spider mites – To get rid of spider mites, use neem oil and apply it through foliar spraying. It contains azadirachtin which is effective against spider mites. You can also use horticultural oil (which also targets aphids and thrips). Pests die after exposure to horticultural oil due to suffocation since the oil blocks the spiracles through which insects breathe. Another effect of horticultural oils is disrupting the metabolism of insect eggs. Lastly, horticultural oils disrupt the insect’s ability to feed. As a result, the insect starves to death. Using pyrethrin spray is also an effective method against spider mites. Another option is spinosad, a mixture of two chemicals called spinosyn A and spinosyn D typically used to control a wide variety of pests.
  • Thrips – To kill thrips, there is a wide array of options to choose from: horticultural oil, insecticidal soap, anti-parasite spray spinosad, or pyrethrin pesticides with piperonyl butoxide.
  • Worms – To protect plants from worms, farmers use pesticides such as carbaryl, pyrethroid insecticides like cyfluthrin, and the insecticide permethrin, neem, spinosad, or chlorpyrifos (an organophosphate pesticide).

Geography:

Spring mixes are produced by companies in countries that grow and export green, leafy vegetables. Spring mixes are sold in groceries and supermarkets in different parts of the world, available in most urban, upscale communities or in areas where the majority of the consumers are financially capable of regularly purchasing spring mixes.  

Packaging

You’ll find spring mixes sold in groceries and supermarkets in plastic packaging.

  • Some come in plastic round or rectangular waterproof transparent clamshell boxes with a lid made of PET material that can be used both for storage or display.
  • Some companies prefer to use a sealable and reclosable transparent vented plastic produce bag made with high-clarity lamination film. The stiff material provides strength for product protection. This is important because young leaves used for making spring mixes are tender and susceptible to bruising.
  • You’ll also find spring mixes sold in plastic packaging with a Grab and Go handle for convenience.
  • Another packaging option for spring mixes is the vented stand-up produce pouch. The design of the bag allows it to stand upright, which is ideal for display and storage purposes.
  • Companies that seek to be environment-friendly opt for packaging made from recycled materials like recycled PET and post-consumer recycled PET.
  • It may not be explicitly stated in some packaging, but there is also spring mix packaging made from plant-based plastics (PLA).

Enjoying Spring Mixes

Spring mix is eaten as a fresh salad but you can also use it as a salad bed for fruits and other vegetables or slices of meat. You can even use spring mixes for stir fry recipes. You can eat spring mix straight from the pack, add vinaigrette or dressing, even use the leafy greens as an ingredient for cooking. You can also eat this with croutons, cheese, berries, and meat.

Some people experience allergic reactions after eating lettuce. If you have this problem, avoid eating spring mix and consult your doctor or dietician first. Caution is also recommended when it comes to eating spring mix for those taking blood thinner.

Most bags of spring mix contain vegetables that have been washed already. If there is nothing in the bag that says the spring mix has been washed and ready to eat, just make sure to wash it before eating.

Storage:

Store spring mix in the refrigerator’s vegetable drawer. You don’t have to remove them from the original packaging, just make sure to not leave it open because when you do, this will make the leaves wilt or deteriorate faster.

Keep refrigerated. Use the packaging it came with. Or transfer in a container with a lid. This way, the spring mix inside the bag or container will stay fresh for a week.

Cooking: 

Spring mixes cut preparation time if you plan on serving garden salad.

Preparing a fresh spring mix does not require all the leafy greens and vegetables (red romaine, baby spinach, radicchio, green romaine, red oak leaf, mizuna, red leaf, lollo rosso, arugula, red mustard, green mustard, red chard, frisee, and tatsoi), you just need three to four ingredients to make a spring mix. The same with mesclun, the French version of spring mix, that requires leaf lettuce, arugula, endive, frisée, mizuma, oak leaf, mâche or lamb’s lettuce, radicchio, sorrel, chervil, groundsel, and dandelion. You can simply start with arugula, chervil, oak leaf, and mâche or a blend of chervil, arugula, leafy lettuces, and endive.

How to make your own blend of spring mix? Consider variety – have leaves with different sizes, colors, shapes, and textures. According to the New England Vegetable Management Guide, you’d only need between 5 to 7 greens and you are set for your spring mix. Always keep in mind the diversity in flavor – Brassica crops for spicy or pungent flavors, lettuces and Chenopodium crops for mild and sweet flavors, Chicory crops for slight bitter taste, and the herbs add more layers of flavor.

Consider these tips when preparing your spring mix for lunch or dinner:

  • Opt for lightweight dressing and use it sparingly. Better yet, use vinaigrette instead. Spring mix greens aren’t really sturdy enough to stay crispy when you put a creamy dressing on top. 
  • Do not let your spring mix salad sit out for too long. Prepare and serve this just before lunch or dinner begins. 
  • Spring mix is great with different kinds of food, from goat cheese to grapes.

Nutritional Benefits:

Spring mix brings together the health benefits of all the greens found in it. It has protein and fiber. It has vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin E, calcium, folate, and potassium. Spring mix is a cholesterol-free, low-sodium, low-calorie, and fat-free food.  

Eating this is beneficial because green leafy vegetables are good for heart and bone health. This is also a great food to eat for pregnant women. If you want to minimize the risk of Alzheimer’s when you are older, start eating spring mix today. Add this to your diet if you want to improve your vision. Spring mix has a low glycemic index.

Nutrition

DV%

  • Serving Size: 1 Serving
  • Calories: varies
  • Carbs: varies
  • Sugar: varies
  • Fiber: varies
  • Protein: varies
  • Fat: varies
  • Saturated Fat: varies

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