Nothing quite promises dietary virtue like the wall of boxed salad greens you’ll find in a typical supermarket produce section: plump, little plastic clamshells, often adorned with words like “superfood,” or “antioxidants,” stuffed with precut, chlorophyll-tinted leaves, and penance for that bag of chips or tub of ice cream lurking in the shopping cart.
Is it all just a mirage—is our devotion to salad really a vice?
In her latest Washington Post column, Tamar Haspel makes a provocative point: “Lettuce is a vehicle to transport refrigerated water from farm to table.” Iceberg lettuce, she reports, is 96 percent water by weight. And the other 4 percent doesn’t offer much in the way of nutrition—a whole salad’s worth has just a gram of fiber (a fourth of what you’d get from amedium apple) and barely a tenth of a day’s requirement of vitamin A and C.
Similar-sized servings of other salad greens, including red leaf lettuce, romaine,arugula, and spinach, deliver a much bigger nutritional punch. But the great bulk of these popular salad greens are grown in California and shipped across the country. By the time they’re cut, washed, packaged, trucked, and stacked on that pious supermarket shelf in your hometown, they have surrendered the bulk of their nutritional content, strong evidence suggests.
And let’s face it: Fancy marketing prose aside, what those bags too often offer is wan and bland, not the peppery jolt of, say, fresh-picked arugula. So what you’re mainly buying are limp tissues of water, most likely shipped from one of two California growing regions (the Imperial or the Salinas valley) with severe long-term water issues.
Haspel adds that in addition to their dubious nutrient density and water economics, salad greens rank as our “top source of food waste” (she reports that 1 billion pounds of salad greens spoil before they’re consumed each year) and also the “chief culprit for foodborne illnesses” (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says leafy greens are “responsible for 22 percent of all food-borne illnesses from 1998-2008“).
What, then, to make of the social expectation that no healthy meal is complete without a salad? Haspel suggests pulling back from it: “Maybe we should stop thinking about salad as a wholesome staple, and start thinking about it as a resource-hungry luxury.”
I try to confine my fresh leafy-green consumption to those times of year when my own garden or farmers around me can readily churn out arugula, spinach, and other nutrient-dense greens. When good salad greens are scarce—as they are now in the infernal Texas summer—I often make a straight parsley salad;parsley has nearly four times the vitamin A and eight times the vitamin C of arugula, which itself is no slouch compared with iceberg lettuce. Or I mash up this bright-tasting herb with a raw seasonal vegetable, like cucumbers, along with heat-hardy basil and garlic chives. I’ve got my eye on this Bon Appetit recipe for a salad built entirely on scallions and cilantro.
Way back in 1988, the restaurant critic Jeffrey Steingarten penned a marvelous essay called “Salad: The Silent Killer” (you can read it here). In it, he deplored the habit of “tuck[ing] into the dreariest salad simply because it is raw and green. No matter that the arugula is edged with brown…[or] that it is the dead of winter and the salad chills us to the marrow.” His real target was out-of-season, cross country-trucked, flavorless greens. The convention that no healthy dinner is complete without them has persisted, and it remains absurd. Like the little girl in the old New Yorker cartoon, “I say it’s [limp] spinach, and I say, to hell with it.”
How the Rich Life of Aliko Dangote Started
Aliko Dangote GCON (born 10 April 1957) is a Nigerian billionaire, who owns the Dangote Group, which has interests in commodities. The company operates in Nigeria and other African countries, including Benin, Cameroon, Ghana, South Africa, Togo, Tanzania, and Zambia. As of January 2015, he had an estimated net worth of $18.6 billion. Dangote is ranked by Forbes magazine as the 67th richest person in the world and the richest in Africa;he peaked on the list as the 23rd richest person in the world in 2014. He surpassed Saudi-Ethiopian billionaire Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi in 2013 by over $2.6 billion to become the world’s richest person of African descent.
Aliko Dangote hails from a very prominent business family in west Africa. He is the great grand nephew of Alhaji Alhassan Dantata, the richest African at the time of his death in 1955. (e.k. oduro) Aliko Dangote, an ethnic muslim Hausa from Kano State, Nigeria, was born into a wealthy Muslim family. Dangote said, “I can remember when I was in primary school, I would go and buy cartons of sweets [sugar boxes] and I would start selling them just to make money. I was so interested in business, even at that time.”
The Dangote Group was established as a small trading firm in 1977. Today, it is a multi-trillion naira conglomerate with many of its operations in Benin, Ghana, Nigeria, and Togo. Dangote has expanded to cover food processing, cement manufacturing, and freight. The Dangote Group also dominates the sugar market in Nigeria and is a major supplier to the country’s soft drink companies ,breweries, and confectioners. The Dangote Group has moved from being a trading company to being the largest industrial group in Nigeria and includes: Dangote Sugar Refinery, Dangote Cement and Dangote Flour.
In July 2012, Dangote approached the Nigerian Ports Authority to lease an abandoned piece of land at the Apapa Port, which was approved. He later built facilities for his flour company there. In the 1990s he approached the Central Bank of Nigeria with the idea that it would be cheaper for the bank to allow his transport company to manage their fleet of staff buses, a proposal which was also approved.
In Nigeria today, Dangote Group with its dominance in the sugar market and refinery business is the main supplier (70% of the market) to the country’s soft drinks companies, breweries and confectioners. It is the largest refinery in Africa and the third largest in the world, producing 800,000 tonnes of sugar annually. Dangote Group owns salt factories and flour mills and is a major importer of rice, fish, pasta, cement and fertilizer. The company exports cotton, cashew nuts, cocoa, sesame seed and ginger to several countries. It also has major investments in real estate, banking, transport, textiles and oil and gas. The company employs over 11,000 people and is the largest industrial conglomerate in West Africa.
Dangote has diversified into telecommunications, and has started building 14,000 kilometres of fibre optic cables to supply the whole of Nigeria. As a result, Dangote was honoured in January 2009 as the leading provider of employment in the Nigerian construction industry.He said, “Let me tell you this and I want to really emphasize it…nothing is going to help Nigeria like Nigerians bringing back their money. If you give me $5 billion today, I will invest everything here in Nigeria. Let us put our heads together and work.” Dangote played a prominent role in the funding of Olusegun Obasanjo’s re-election bid in 2003, to which he gave over N200 million (US$1M). He contributed N50 million (US$0.25M) to the National Mosque under the aegis of “Friends of Obasanjo and Atiku”. He contributed N200 million to the Presidential Library. These highly controversial gifts to members of the ruling Party [PDP] have generated significant concerns despite highly publicised anti-corruption drives during Obasanjo’s second term.
On 23 May 2010, Britain’s Daily Mirror reported that Dangote was interested in buying a 16 percent stake in Premiership side Arsenal belonging to Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith.Dangote later denied these rumours. On 14 November 2011, Dangote was awarded Nigeria’s second highest honour, the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON) by the President, Goodluck Jonathan. Dangote reportedly added $9.2 billion to his personal wealth in 2013, according to the Bloomberg Index, now making him the 30th richest person in the world, in addition to being the richest person in Africa. In 2014, the Nigerian government said Dangote had donated 150 million Naira (US$750,000) to halt the spread of ebola. In May 2015 Dangote expressed interest in purchasing the English football team Arsenal. He stated that if he was able to make the purchase he would fire the club’s long-standing manager Arsene Wenger.
Dangote was named as the Forbes Africa Person of the Year 2014.The other nominees for the award were South Africa’s Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela , Nigerian author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie , Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission, (SEC), Arunma Oteh , and President of the African Development Bank, Donald Kaberuka . In 2013, Alhaji Dangote and six other prominent Nigerians were conferred Honorary Citizenship of Arkansas State by Governor Mike Beebe who also proclaimed May 30th of every year as Nigeria Day in the US. The other prominent Nigerians are: Chief Ms. Temitope Ajayi , the President and CEO of Nigerian American Agricultural Empowerment Programme; Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano State; Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina , Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development; Prof. Tajudeen Gbadamosi , a former lecturer of University of Lagos; Prof. Ade Adefuye , the Nigeria’s Ambassador to the United States; Prof. Julius Okojie , the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission.
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