In the Deep South, folks tend to fry everything. The list of fried items is like a rendition of legendary gospel singer Shirley Caesar belting out a litany of Sunday soul food dishes — “beans, greens, potatoes, tomatoes, lamb,” and everything else from A to Z, including okra, fish, chicken, pickles, and, yes, even watermelon.

Visit outdoor events like the Mississippi State Fair or any backyard cookout, and load up on fried oreos, turkey legs, funnel cakes, alligator, Snickers candy bars and even Kool-Aid.

All that fried food is quick to make, tasty and inexpensive. But, the far-reaching results — Mississippi ranks at the top of the nation in obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.

“In this area, you don’t have to go far to find fast-food. And, more often than not, it’s something fried,” said Christopher Deans III, operator and co-owner of Loaded Lettuce, located in the Westland Plaza restaurant in west Jackson. “It’s not just the fast-food restaurants, even the convenience stores and gas stations offer something deep fried.”

Deans III is a former teacher at Provine High School in Jackson. Raising his growing family on a teacher’s salary convinced him to go full-time with the business. His former students work at the restaurant, and he hires from the community with plans to open a second restaurant near Jackson State University.

Loaded Lettuce opened in September 2021, and is the brainchild of Deans’ father, Christopher Deans, Sr., a local physical therapist. The business was first called Simply Salad, but trademark issues resulted in the change to Loaded Lettuce.

“My dad has been in health care for over 20 years. He’s seen the long-term effects of an unhealthy diet, a bad diet,” said Deans. “He gets you after you’ve had that stroke, so he knows. And he cares. Loaded Lettuce is the result of his caring.”

“Here at Loaded Lettuce, we offer a nutritious alternative. Our goal is to bring a hearty, healthy, and convenient choice to the community,” Deans explains. “Our customers tell us that we are a breath of fresh air,” he says with a huge smile.

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