Campus Spotlight, Student Life

‘Lettuce eat’: McGill’s first lettuce-eating competition a success

Despite the stress of adjusting to a hybrid semester, McGill students ‘romaine’ committed to cultivating a vibrant campus culture. Case in point: The unbe-leaf-able turnout for McGill’s first-ever lettuce-eating competition, which took place at the lower field on Sept. 24. 

Upwards of 150 people, ranging from enthusiastic participants to bemused onlookers, attended. The event was BYOL, or “bring your own lettuce”—specifically, a head of iceberg lettuce weighing over 600g.

Arielle Lok, U2 Management and founder of Lettuce Club McGill, hosted the event with the help of Bjørn Christensen, U2 Arts, and Joel Conway, U2 Management. While lettuce clubs have existed in universities across Canada and the U.S. with the first appearing in Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 1865, Lok thought the “fun and meme-y” concept would be a hit among McGill students.

“I was going to throw this online last year, but I thought it’d be silly to have a lot of people on a Zoom call eating heads of lettuce,” Lok said in an interview with The McGill Tribune. “There had been a huge lack of student life [back then], so I’m glad this was able to make people happy.”

Just before noon, organizers ushered the lettuce-eaters into the rough outline of a circle. Brandishing an air horn and megaphone at its centre stood Lok, who first gave a shout-out to the climate march happening later that day. 

“We have to make sure we can grow the lettuce we’re eating!” Lok reminded the crowd.

Lok then blared her horn, the church bells ringing in agreement, and the race began.

Noah Vaton / The McGill Tribune

Lettuce littered the grass as competitors frantically chowed down. Some shredded their heads into manageable handfuls before downing mouthfuls; others bit into them like an apple. The act itself was unwieldy—and sort of gross—but the crowd’s energy was palpable.

Three minutes passed with boisterous fanfare. Soon after, some lettuce-eaters began to slow. The crowd eagerly pressed forward: Two competitors had almost finished their heads to the core, neck-in-neck. With a few resolute chugs of water, Aslan Lacouvee, U2 Arts and Science, emerged victorious. 

“I’m feeling on top of the world,” Lacouvee said to the Tribune after his win, which clocked in at three minutes and 45 seconds.

Is winning just the tip of the iceberg for the freshly appointed Head of Lettuce? Clout is the only prize, according to Lok. As the new leader of the Lettuce Club, however, Lacouvee will be tasked with organizing the next meeting if the competition is to continue. 

Maria Haddad, a second-year master’s student studying neuroscience, and Thomas Allen, U3 Engineering, participated in the contest together.

“I thought, life is short, might as well eat a whole head of lettuce for fun,” Haddad said. 

Allen’s motives skewed more to longevity. 

“I saw this [event], and I realized I hadn’t eaten any vegetables since before the semester started,” Allen laughed. “I thought it’d be a good idea to come here and make up for lost time.” 

Both Allen and Haddad agreed that the event’s turnout was a pleasant surprise. 

“I expected it to be maybe 10 people in a semicircle, [so] seeing all these people turn up is amazing,” Allen said. “I was down at Provigo today and they were having a bit of a lettuce shortage. I got three heads of lettuce and there were only two left on the shelf after that.”

With luck, there will be more creative events to engage the student community this year. 

“[If] you have a stupid idea, you should just go ahead with it,” Lok advised. “It turns out a lot of us like stupid ideas.”

Noah Vaton / The McGill Tribune

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