Thursday, October 30, 2008

In America, It's Grown Only In Rio Vista

In America, It's Grown Only In Rio Vista
Vegetable Has Become Unusual Holiday Favorite
October 29, 2008

RIO VISTA, Calif. -- What vegetable is grown -- in the dark no less -- in Rio Vista and nowhere else in the U.S.?

It's endive lettuce, and it is grown inside complete darkness at California Vegetable Specialties, the only endive facility in the country.

The Rio Vista facility will send out 3,000 boxes of endive on busy days.

But don't call California Vegetable Specialties a processing plant, endive farmer Rich Collins said.

"We're a farm. We're farming here," Collins said. "We just happen to farm inside in the dark."

The lettuce, which comes from the chicory root, is packed with nutrition, Collins said.

"We grow a chicory root in the field, and we take that root from the field, harvest it about 6-inches in length with a bud on top," Collins said. "Then we grow that plant again in a dark growing room called the forcing room."

The roots then sprout white or red leaves in about four weeks.

The lettuce, which has become an unusual holiday favorite, is then rushed to restaurants and markets where it can be used for a myriad of food dishes.

"It can be used as hors d'oeuvres, each leaf as a carrier or boat," Collins said. "It's a wonderful salad and it can also be cooked."