Everyone’s favorite veggie to pick on is now getting the cold shoulder from one of the nation’s most popular chain restaurants, Chick-fil-A.

This past Monday, Chick-fil-A’s vice president of menu strategy and development, David Farmer, made clear his company’s stance on iceberg lettuce during an interview that was meant to show off their efforts to create healthier menu options. "We have a mandate: Never use iceberg lettuce," he told Business Insider. "It's at the bottom of the salad food chain. There is no nutritional value in iceberg lettuce."


Farmer’s viewpoint is hardly unique among people in the food and nutrition biz, even if he is exaggerating iceberg lettuce’s nutritional uselessness just a tad. Last August, food and science writer Tamar Haspel launched her own salvo at the very concept of the salad, or at least the salad as it’s most popularized in the U.S. Much of her criticism was, of course, aimed straight at iceberg lettuce.

“A head of iceberg lettuce has the same water content as a bottle of Evian (1-liter size: 96 percent water, four percent bottle) and is only marginally more nutritious,” she correctly noted.

Iceberg’s feebleness aside, Haspel continued, the more serious problem is that the tasteless vegetable (Farmer’s words) fools people into thinking their meal is healthier than it actually is — a problem particularly rampant at fast food restaurants. That sort of argument, though not explicitly made by Farmer, appears to be at least part of the larger impetus for Chick-fil-A’s shunning of iceberg and the adoption of greens like kale.

"Our focus over the last couple years has been around health," he told Business Insider. "We're seeing purchase behavior shift toward healthier items, so we're fully committed to providing more nutritional options for customers."

It’s certainly not the first time in recent memory that Chick-fil-A has tried to promote itself as more health-conscious. Early this January, sports writer Rodger Sherman brought to light what some might call a mixed message: a nutritional tip pasted onto their packaging that recommended people space out their meals by nomming down on an 8-count pack of their grilled chicken nuggets every three to four hours. Mind you, the message wasn’t mixed because of the menu item itself, an 8-pack weighing in at a thrifty 140 calories, but because the research on spacing out meals being of any added benefit isn’t actually all that concrete.

Still, Farmer is right that Chick-fil-A’s customers are better off healthwise by eating menu items that have darker greens instead of iceberg lettuce. That it might be healthiest to simply avoid fast food restaurants in general, though, is a statement he and Chick-fil-A likely wouldn't get behind.