IPG - International Produce Group

Lettuce - Iceberg

Lettuce, part of the sunflower family, is a hardy annual plant that is grown in many different climates. The ancient Egyptians were the first to see this plant as more than a weed. Soon, cultivation of lettuce quickly spread across the ancient world. Lettuce has been used not only for food but to treat and cure ailments, to make oil, and for religious uses.

Originally called crisp head lettuce, iceberg lettuce got its name from the way it was shipped by train from the Salinas Valley early in the 20th century. They used rail cars to transport it to the markets on the east coast. Since there was no refrigeration, ice was piled on the cartons of lettuce to keep it cold. When the rail cars were opened to unload the lettuce, they looked as if they were filled with ‘icebergs’. It has been called iceberg lettuce ever since.

Over the years, iceberg lettuce varieties were developed for longer transits to supermarkets across the United States. Iceberg lettuce that is developed to customer standards is packed in the field into cartons and then immediately transported to the cooling facility and vacuum cooled to remove field heat. This eliminates the opportunity for the lettuce to quickly breakdown. Now iceberg lettuce can be shipped worldwide and has a shelf life of up to three to four weeks.

Iceberg lettuce is known for its semi sweet flavor, its texture and crunchiness. Its compact heads and broadly shaped leaves are thick-walled and concentrated with more water than virtually any other green lettuce. Iceberg lettuce varies in color depending on each particular variety, and where and how it is grown. Outer leaves range in color from sea green to lime green while inner leaves range from pale yellow to white. All the leaves form a nearly perfect globular head. 

Iceberg lettuce is very low in calories with only 11 calories per one cup serving. It is also very low in fat. Iceberg lettuce is a good source of thiamin, folate and manganese, and vitamins B6, K, C and A. 

Iceberg Lettuce Availability

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Salinas Valley          
SW Desert              
San Joaquin Valley                    

SW Desert includes Yuma Arizona and Coachella & Imperial Valleys in California