Monday, March 25, 2013

Iceberg lettuce at $2.59! And, even higher prices to come?

These romaine seedlings will be ready for harvest in 60 days!
As I am already jittery and primed to panic after watching hours and hours of doom and gloom on the TV media outlets, I did a double take at the local grocery store when I saw a head of iceberg lettuce going for $2.59!

Was it time for me to panic and begin throwing stuff into my basket willy-nilly? Was ugly inflation finally taking a serious hold? No, to all the above. Blame the price increase for this and other veggies on cold temperatures that have ruined crops from California to Arizona and beyond.

Retail and wholesale prices for everything from iceberg lettuce to asparagus are soaring because of shortages and crop damage. Warning signs have gone up in some supermarkets. Price hikes are also hurting restaurants, where some vegetables have more than doubled in cost. Want some fresh asparagus? Don't even think about it.

In the winter, about 90 percent of vegetables consumed in the U.S. are grown in Imperial Valley, Coachella Valley and Yuma, Ariz., according to the Irvine-based Western Growers Association. About 25 percent of leafy greens grown in that region – such as romaine and iceberg lettuces – have been damaged, the association said this week. So, get ready to pay higher prices, at least until the spring growing season cranks up - or - do what I'm doing by growing your own!

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