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Blame California for high lettuce and cauliflower prices

Last Updated Apr 28, 2017 at 7:09 am PST

(iStock Photo)

California has had record amounts of rain this year

Once it warms up in California, prices for our favourite veggies are expected to drop back to normal

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Vegetarians and salad lovers are experiencing sticker shock when they venture into the veggie aisle these days.

At local supermarkets, you’re paying up to $4.99 for a head of romaine and iceberg lettuce, up to $7 for a head of cauliflower. That’s up to four times the normal price.

Blame California – where most field lettuce and cauliflower come from. The state has had record amounts of rain this year. The agricultural region south of Silicon Valley produces 60 per cent of the US’s leaf lettuce and some fields haven’t been planted yet.

“It’s probably the cold and wet that is not allowing the cauliflower to grow. The state literally produces millions and millions of head of cauliflower every week. If they have a problem, everybody feels it pretty quickly,” says James Vercammen, professor of food economics at UBC.

You might recall exorbitant prices for cauliflower around this time last year. That situation was triggered by drought conditions.

Luckily, these prices aren’t expected to be around for long.

“That’s the good thing about fast-growing crops like lettuce and cauliflower. Two weeks from now, we could see normal prices again for lettuce. Cauliflower will take a little longer to get back to normal – like six to ten weeks,” says Vercammen.

He points out the price of the spring lettuce that comes in plastic containers hasn’t changed, because it’s grown in hot houses.

Price fluctuations, notes Vercammen, remind us about the globalized marketplace, which provides us with fresh fruit and vegetables all year round. The prices are also a reminder that climate affects the food we put on the table.