Here's what you need to know about the West Coast salad shortage
First it was a years-long drought that caused problems for California farmers. Now, it’s an entirely different issue: Too much rain.
Already, vegetable suppliers on the West Coast have seen limited production. First there was the warm weather that halted the winter growing season far earlier than expected; next, heavy rainfall, also unanticipated, hindered planting of the next season’s crops.
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According to a new report by Bloomberg though, the vegetable shortage shouldn’t last long. It’s possible for a crop to reach maturity in just a few months, and many farmers grow several per year.
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Still, the short-term shortage has proven an impediment to wholesalers nationwide. After all, California is the largest producer of fruits and vegetables in the U.S. As Roland Fumasi, a senior produce analyst for Rabobank in Fresno, California told the news outlet, wholesalers can expect to continue to see “relatively elevated” prices. U.S. Department of Agriculture data reveals that the cost of one carton containing 30 celery heads has nearly tripled since early February, while a carton of 36 romaine lettuce hearts is currently more than four times the cost it was at this time last year.
Of course, not all wholesalers rely on crops from the West Coast. Supermarkets in places like Chicago and Milwaukee, for instance, rely on lettuce, tomato, and basil crops from New York based BrightFarms Inc., avegetable producer that uses reliable greenhouse technology. Recently, BrightFarms has been contracted by new wholesalers around the country who are growing desperate for the scarce leafy greens.
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“The harvestable crop is not at the level that it normally would have been had we not had these planting delays,” Fumasi continued. “Over the coming few weeks or 30 days, the supply gaps will hopefully be less intense and maybe begin to go away.”
Let’s hope he’s right. In the meantime, we’ll be wishfully stocking up on spring salad recipes.
This article originally appeared in Food & Wine.