How To Avoid Discovering Dead Animals In Your Salads

A few days ago, a journalist for the Wall Street Journal discovered a dead frog in her salad at Prêt à Manger.

I'll give you a few moments to click on that link and quell your certain onslaught of nausea before I continue.

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Better now? Ok, good. Now I must remind you of the equally revolting case of the Mouse in the Salad. A few years ago, Freakonomics reported on a story very similar to the current frog situation, in which a woman discovered a dead mouse  in her salad at Le Pain Quotidien. Mayhem and disgust ensued throughout the nation, but so did an interesting discussion about how a business could and should handle the public relations fall out from such a bad situation. I highly recommend that you listen to this episode of Freakonomics -- just keep a bottle of Pepto Bismol nearby when you do.

If all this has your tummy thoroughly unsettled at the site of leafy green stuff, fear not, because I have reassuring news for you. By extrapolating similarities between the case of the Frog in the Salad and the case of the Mouse in the Salad and applying lessons learned from each, I believe that you can avoid ever finding another unwanted dead mammal, amphibian, or any other comparably sized member of Kingdom Animalia in your dressing-drenched roughage.

1. Never eat at a restaurant with a French name. 

Prêt à Manger is French for "Ready to Eat." Le Pain Quotidien is French for "The Daily Bread." So you think you can fool me with your hoity-toity continental names, eh? I can see right through your thinly veiled attempts to hide the truth. Ready to eat? HA! Ready to eat FROG is what you REALLY mean. The daily bread? More like the daily DEAD mouse! I won't fall for these attempts to manipulate my emotions through exotic, emotionally evocative foreign phrases. You don't believe me? Well, fine, I won't be eating French fries anymore, either. Because they're too... French. But I WILL still wear my beret and listen to Edith Piaf. Why? Because this is AMERICA, and I CAN.

2. Never eat organic salad.

In a response to the hubbub over the amphibious corpse, a representative from Pret a Manger issued this statement:

“At Pret A Manger, we take issues like this very seriously. Our lettuce is sourced from farms that do not use any pesticides on its produce, therefore organic matter does very rarely manage to pass through our production process. We are currently looking into this issue to make every effort that this does not happen again.”

Stephen Dubner of Freakonomics quoted the CEO from Le Pain Quotidien, Vincent Herbert, as also mentioning organic produce as a culprit in the deceased mouse crime:

"Herbert said that the mouse actually came with the greens from the field. And here's the thing: Le Pain Quotidien prides itself on serving organic produce. So using pesticides, for instance, might cut down on the chances of, let's say, another mouse in the salad. Truth is, it's very hard to know if that's actually true. But moving away from organic would violate the firm's core philosophies, he calls it."

The answer is laid out right there in plain English (important note: English, not French), folks. If these salad greens had been doused in copious quantities of pesticides, then all traces of outside organic life would have been severed from them much earlier in the process. Mmmmm... chemicals!

Just look at that face. Why would you ever want to dine without it?

Just look at that face. Why would you ever want to dine without it?

3. Always bring a cat with you to the dinner table.

Do you have a cat? No? Well, you should. Cats are amazing creatures who can sniff out the scent of a live or dead frog and save you from ever encountering it's macabre visage. You see, they enjoy dead frogs and dead mice in ways that we can't even imagine (unless you're imagining snacks and/or toys, in which case you're probably spot-on). My cat always insists on inspecting my food -- I think she's saving me from poison -- before she allows me to eat it. She probably saved me from 6 mice and 3 frogs in the past week alone.

See? It's that easy, folks. Just three simple steps. You're welcome.