Lettuce, oh lettuce, where for art thou?

Have you missed something on your sandwiches lately? Perhaps you’ve seen signs at sandwich shops saying lettuce was “available on request.” Or maybe you saw an empty shelf where there used to be stacks of green lettuce heads in the grocery store produce aisle.

What’s Going On With Iceberg?

You may ask, “Was there a big recall I didn’t hear about?” The answer would be no, not this time.

“Supply chain issues?” No, that’s not it, either.

Believe it or not, there are still occasional crop failures in our country. Most of our nation’s lettuce, and most other items in the produce aisle, come from central and southern California. This last Fall, the lettuce crop was hit with a damaging disease, the Impatiens Necrotic Spot Virus (INSV), primarily in the Salinas Valley where lettuce is grown in the fall. Later, lettuce production will move to drier areas toward Arizona. It’s that crop we should be seeing more in the stores and on menus in the Spring.

But for now, there is indeed a lettuce shortage. Experts estimate as much as 70% of the Valley’s lettuce crop was lost. They say lettuce supplies should be easing soon as the new crops start showing up in the pipeline.