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The Daily Dish: October 27, 2015

The Daily Dish: October 27, 2015



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Dishing out the latest and greatest in food news

Learn more about what is hot and trending in the world of food and drink.

Welcome to The Daily Meal’s Daily Dish, where we highlight what’s hot and trending in the world of all things food and drink.

Today’s first course?

They say “Butter makes everything better,” but buttered sushi? One Osaka-based Japanese restaurant decided butter could improve sushi, and it turns out they’re right. The Jinen restaurant chain reportedly started topping grilled freshwater eel sushi with butter pats held in place by seaweed strips, and the dish has been a hit.The heat from the eel makes the butter creamy, and fans are chiming in with that timeworn melt-in-your-mouth cliché. It shouldn’t be long before you see butter sushi at your local sushi spot.

What do you get when you cross a unicorn with a New York bagel? Clearly the Rainbow Bagel created by the Bagel Store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. This psychedelic creation looks like Lisa Frank got into a vat of boiling bagels, but it isn’t a spoof. The Rainbow Bagel is stuffed with cotton candy, cake-flavored cream cheese, and sprinkles. We’re scared to know what they look like toasted.

Dracula may come to suck your blood on Halloween, or maybe he’ll opt for Starbucks’ new Frappuccino instead. Starbucks unveiled a Frappula Frappuccino inspired by Dracula! It’s made with white chocolate sauce, milk, and ice with a layer of mocha sauce and whipped cream at the bottom; raspberry syrup coating the inside of the cup; and whipped cream on top. It will be available from October 28 to 31. Last year, Starbucks honored Frankenstein with a green tea and peppermint syrup Franken Frappuccino.

And that’s today's Daily Dish. Thanks for watching. Stop by tomorrow for another helping.


Why lettuce is getting so expensive

If you’re making a salad in the next couple of weeks, you might want to consider switching to arugula — lettuce might be too expensive. And don’t even think about putting any cauliflower in it.

It’s all because of that wacky winter weather -- and despite what you might expect, the drought has nothing to do with it.

Instead, it was the warm temperatures in January and February that pushed some winter vegetables to peak harvest way too early, leaving gaps in the supply chain now that are pushing up prices.

For example, red leaf lettuce that was selling at wholesale for $12 to $15 a carton at this time last year is now going for twice that much -- $25 to $30. Romaine hearts that were $18 to $20 wholesale last year are now $21 to $25.

So far iceberg lettuce has been holding steady, but produce pros say that we should starting seeing a gap in that in the next week or so.

Cauliflower is similarly high -- $24 to $28 a wholesale carton, compared with $12 to $13 just this February.

Every increase in the wholesale price does not create a corresponding bump at retail because supermarkets like to keep prices as steady as possible, even if it means taking a loss sometimes.

But almost invariably with increases on this scale, prices are going to go up.

It all comes down to a nasty trick Mother Nature played on farmers this winter.

Farmers plant in different areas in order to assure a steady supply of vegetables. In the case of lettuce, they plan the winter harvest out of the Coachella Valley and Yuma, Ariz., to segue smoothly to the spring and summer harvests from various fields in the Salinas Valley.

This way, they’ll be able to offer a dependable inventory at consistent prices, if the weather cooperates.

But this winter was anything but cooperative, says Mark McBride of Coastline Family Farms, a major vegetable grower based in the Salinas Valley.

“As soon as we put our best-laid plans on paper, Mother Nature comes along,” he says. “When the weather is warmer than normal, the crops mature and come to harvest earlier.”

The problem comes when those fields are finished being harvested before the next ones are ready.

“All winter we’ve been 10 to 21 days ahead of schedule, and for the next few weeks, we’re going to have to pay the piper for that,” McBride says.

First, the warm winter weather was a blessing to shoppers, as the early Salinas and late desert harvests collided, creating a glut of lettuce that drove prices so low that, McBride says, some growers didn’t even harvest all of their fields.

But now comes the payback as the Salinas fields that were planted next in the rotation are not yet ready.

McBride says that once this little hiccup works its way through the supply chain in late May or early June, things should return to normal -- or as normal as farming gets anyway.

Are you a food geek? Follow me on Twitter @russ_parsons1.

Get our weekly Tasting Notes newsletter for reviews, news and more.

You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.

Russ Parsons is a former Food writer and columnist and the former editor of the Food section at the Los Angeles Times.

More From the Los Angeles Times

A family-run tortilla factory in Boyle Heights is in danger of closing amid an eminent domain dispute with the city over relocation fees for its tortilla machines.

Residents are being warned not to eat mussels and other potentially toxic shellfish collected by sports harvesters from coastal waters.

In ‘Ripe Figs’ author Yasmin Khan offers grilling recipes from Turkey, Greece and Cyprus.


Why lettuce is getting so expensive

If you’re making a salad in the next couple of weeks, you might want to consider switching to arugula — lettuce might be too expensive. And don’t even think about putting any cauliflower in it.

It’s all because of that wacky winter weather -- and despite what you might expect, the drought has nothing to do with it.

Instead, it was the warm temperatures in January and February that pushed some winter vegetables to peak harvest way too early, leaving gaps in the supply chain now that are pushing up prices.

For example, red leaf lettuce that was selling at wholesale for $12 to $15 a carton at this time last year is now going for twice that much -- $25 to $30. Romaine hearts that were $18 to $20 wholesale last year are now $21 to $25.

So far iceberg lettuce has been holding steady, but produce pros say that we should starting seeing a gap in that in the next week or so.

Cauliflower is similarly high -- $24 to $28 a wholesale carton, compared with $12 to $13 just this February.

Every increase in the wholesale price does not create a corresponding bump at retail because supermarkets like to keep prices as steady as possible, even if it means taking a loss sometimes.

But almost invariably with increases on this scale, prices are going to go up.

It all comes down to a nasty trick Mother Nature played on farmers this winter.

Farmers plant in different areas in order to assure a steady supply of vegetables. In the case of lettuce, they plan the winter harvest out of the Coachella Valley and Yuma, Ariz., to segue smoothly to the spring and summer harvests from various fields in the Salinas Valley.

This way, they’ll be able to offer a dependable inventory at consistent prices, if the weather cooperates.

But this winter was anything but cooperative, says Mark McBride of Coastline Family Farms, a major vegetable grower based in the Salinas Valley.

“As soon as we put our best-laid plans on paper, Mother Nature comes along,” he says. “When the weather is warmer than normal, the crops mature and come to harvest earlier.”

The problem comes when those fields are finished being harvested before the next ones are ready.

“All winter we’ve been 10 to 21 days ahead of schedule, and for the next few weeks, we’re going to have to pay the piper for that,” McBride says.

First, the warm winter weather was a blessing to shoppers, as the early Salinas and late desert harvests collided, creating a glut of lettuce that drove prices so low that, McBride says, some growers didn’t even harvest all of their fields.

But now comes the payback as the Salinas fields that were planted next in the rotation are not yet ready.

McBride says that once this little hiccup works its way through the supply chain in late May or early June, things should return to normal -- or as normal as farming gets anyway.

Are you a food geek? Follow me on Twitter @russ_parsons1.

Get our weekly Tasting Notes newsletter for reviews, news and more.

You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.

Russ Parsons is a former Food writer and columnist and the former editor of the Food section at the Los Angeles Times.

More From the Los Angeles Times

A family-run tortilla factory in Boyle Heights is in danger of closing amid an eminent domain dispute with the city over relocation fees for its tortilla machines.

Residents are being warned not to eat mussels and other potentially toxic shellfish collected by sports harvesters from coastal waters.

In ‘Ripe Figs’ author Yasmin Khan offers grilling recipes from Turkey, Greece and Cyprus.


Why lettuce is getting so expensive

If you’re making a salad in the next couple of weeks, you might want to consider switching to arugula — lettuce might be too expensive. And don’t even think about putting any cauliflower in it.

It’s all because of that wacky winter weather -- and despite what you might expect, the drought has nothing to do with it.

Instead, it was the warm temperatures in January and February that pushed some winter vegetables to peak harvest way too early, leaving gaps in the supply chain now that are pushing up prices.

For example, red leaf lettuce that was selling at wholesale for $12 to $15 a carton at this time last year is now going for twice that much -- $25 to $30. Romaine hearts that were $18 to $20 wholesale last year are now $21 to $25.

So far iceberg lettuce has been holding steady, but produce pros say that we should starting seeing a gap in that in the next week or so.

Cauliflower is similarly high -- $24 to $28 a wholesale carton, compared with $12 to $13 just this February.

Every increase in the wholesale price does not create a corresponding bump at retail because supermarkets like to keep prices as steady as possible, even if it means taking a loss sometimes.

But almost invariably with increases on this scale, prices are going to go up.

It all comes down to a nasty trick Mother Nature played on farmers this winter.

Farmers plant in different areas in order to assure a steady supply of vegetables. In the case of lettuce, they plan the winter harvest out of the Coachella Valley and Yuma, Ariz., to segue smoothly to the spring and summer harvests from various fields in the Salinas Valley.

This way, they’ll be able to offer a dependable inventory at consistent prices, if the weather cooperates.

But this winter was anything but cooperative, says Mark McBride of Coastline Family Farms, a major vegetable grower based in the Salinas Valley.

“As soon as we put our best-laid plans on paper, Mother Nature comes along,” he says. “When the weather is warmer than normal, the crops mature and come to harvest earlier.”

The problem comes when those fields are finished being harvested before the next ones are ready.

“All winter we’ve been 10 to 21 days ahead of schedule, and for the next few weeks, we’re going to have to pay the piper for that,” McBride says.

First, the warm winter weather was a blessing to shoppers, as the early Salinas and late desert harvests collided, creating a glut of lettuce that drove prices so low that, McBride says, some growers didn’t even harvest all of their fields.

But now comes the payback as the Salinas fields that were planted next in the rotation are not yet ready.

McBride says that once this little hiccup works its way through the supply chain in late May or early June, things should return to normal -- or as normal as farming gets anyway.

Are you a food geek? Follow me on Twitter @russ_parsons1.

Get our weekly Tasting Notes newsletter for reviews, news and more.

You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.

Russ Parsons is a former Food writer and columnist and the former editor of the Food section at the Los Angeles Times.

More From the Los Angeles Times

A family-run tortilla factory in Boyle Heights is in danger of closing amid an eminent domain dispute with the city over relocation fees for its tortilla machines.

Residents are being warned not to eat mussels and other potentially toxic shellfish collected by sports harvesters from coastal waters.

In ‘Ripe Figs’ author Yasmin Khan offers grilling recipes from Turkey, Greece and Cyprus.


Why lettuce is getting so expensive

If you’re making a salad in the next couple of weeks, you might want to consider switching to arugula — lettuce might be too expensive. And don’t even think about putting any cauliflower in it.

It’s all because of that wacky winter weather -- and despite what you might expect, the drought has nothing to do with it.

Instead, it was the warm temperatures in January and February that pushed some winter vegetables to peak harvest way too early, leaving gaps in the supply chain now that are pushing up prices.

For example, red leaf lettuce that was selling at wholesale for $12 to $15 a carton at this time last year is now going for twice that much -- $25 to $30. Romaine hearts that were $18 to $20 wholesale last year are now $21 to $25.

So far iceberg lettuce has been holding steady, but produce pros say that we should starting seeing a gap in that in the next week or so.

Cauliflower is similarly high -- $24 to $28 a wholesale carton, compared with $12 to $13 just this February.

Every increase in the wholesale price does not create a corresponding bump at retail because supermarkets like to keep prices as steady as possible, even if it means taking a loss sometimes.

But almost invariably with increases on this scale, prices are going to go up.

It all comes down to a nasty trick Mother Nature played on farmers this winter.

Farmers plant in different areas in order to assure a steady supply of vegetables. In the case of lettuce, they plan the winter harvest out of the Coachella Valley and Yuma, Ariz., to segue smoothly to the spring and summer harvests from various fields in the Salinas Valley.

This way, they’ll be able to offer a dependable inventory at consistent prices, if the weather cooperates.

But this winter was anything but cooperative, says Mark McBride of Coastline Family Farms, a major vegetable grower based in the Salinas Valley.

“As soon as we put our best-laid plans on paper, Mother Nature comes along,” he says. “When the weather is warmer than normal, the crops mature and come to harvest earlier.”

The problem comes when those fields are finished being harvested before the next ones are ready.

“All winter we’ve been 10 to 21 days ahead of schedule, and for the next few weeks, we’re going to have to pay the piper for that,” McBride says.

First, the warm winter weather was a blessing to shoppers, as the early Salinas and late desert harvests collided, creating a glut of lettuce that drove prices so low that, McBride says, some growers didn’t even harvest all of their fields.

But now comes the payback as the Salinas fields that were planted next in the rotation are not yet ready.

McBride says that once this little hiccup works its way through the supply chain in late May or early June, things should return to normal -- or as normal as farming gets anyway.

Are you a food geek? Follow me on Twitter @russ_parsons1.

Get our weekly Tasting Notes newsletter for reviews, news and more.

You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.

Russ Parsons is a former Food writer and columnist and the former editor of the Food section at the Los Angeles Times.

More From the Los Angeles Times

A family-run tortilla factory in Boyle Heights is in danger of closing amid an eminent domain dispute with the city over relocation fees for its tortilla machines.

Residents are being warned not to eat mussels and other potentially toxic shellfish collected by sports harvesters from coastal waters.

In ‘Ripe Figs’ author Yasmin Khan offers grilling recipes from Turkey, Greece and Cyprus.


Why lettuce is getting so expensive

If you’re making a salad in the next couple of weeks, you might want to consider switching to arugula — lettuce might be too expensive. And don’t even think about putting any cauliflower in it.

It’s all because of that wacky winter weather -- and despite what you might expect, the drought has nothing to do with it.

Instead, it was the warm temperatures in January and February that pushed some winter vegetables to peak harvest way too early, leaving gaps in the supply chain now that are pushing up prices.

For example, red leaf lettuce that was selling at wholesale for $12 to $15 a carton at this time last year is now going for twice that much -- $25 to $30. Romaine hearts that were $18 to $20 wholesale last year are now $21 to $25.

So far iceberg lettuce has been holding steady, but produce pros say that we should starting seeing a gap in that in the next week or so.

Cauliflower is similarly high -- $24 to $28 a wholesale carton, compared with $12 to $13 just this February.

Every increase in the wholesale price does not create a corresponding bump at retail because supermarkets like to keep prices as steady as possible, even if it means taking a loss sometimes.

But almost invariably with increases on this scale, prices are going to go up.

It all comes down to a nasty trick Mother Nature played on farmers this winter.

Farmers plant in different areas in order to assure a steady supply of vegetables. In the case of lettuce, they plan the winter harvest out of the Coachella Valley and Yuma, Ariz., to segue smoothly to the spring and summer harvests from various fields in the Salinas Valley.

This way, they’ll be able to offer a dependable inventory at consistent prices, if the weather cooperates.

But this winter was anything but cooperative, says Mark McBride of Coastline Family Farms, a major vegetable grower based in the Salinas Valley.

“As soon as we put our best-laid plans on paper, Mother Nature comes along,” he says. “When the weather is warmer than normal, the crops mature and come to harvest earlier.”

The problem comes when those fields are finished being harvested before the next ones are ready.

“All winter we’ve been 10 to 21 days ahead of schedule, and for the next few weeks, we’re going to have to pay the piper for that,” McBride says.

First, the warm winter weather was a blessing to shoppers, as the early Salinas and late desert harvests collided, creating a glut of lettuce that drove prices so low that, McBride says, some growers didn’t even harvest all of their fields.

But now comes the payback as the Salinas fields that were planted next in the rotation are not yet ready.

McBride says that once this little hiccup works its way through the supply chain in late May or early June, things should return to normal -- or as normal as farming gets anyway.

Are you a food geek? Follow me on Twitter @russ_parsons1.

Get our weekly Tasting Notes newsletter for reviews, news and more.

You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.

Russ Parsons is a former Food writer and columnist and the former editor of the Food section at the Los Angeles Times.

More From the Los Angeles Times

A family-run tortilla factory in Boyle Heights is in danger of closing amid an eminent domain dispute with the city over relocation fees for its tortilla machines.

Residents are being warned not to eat mussels and other potentially toxic shellfish collected by sports harvesters from coastal waters.

In ‘Ripe Figs’ author Yasmin Khan offers grilling recipes from Turkey, Greece and Cyprus.


Why lettuce is getting so expensive

If you’re making a salad in the next couple of weeks, you might want to consider switching to arugula — lettuce might be too expensive. And don’t even think about putting any cauliflower in it.

It’s all because of that wacky winter weather -- and despite what you might expect, the drought has nothing to do with it.

Instead, it was the warm temperatures in January and February that pushed some winter vegetables to peak harvest way too early, leaving gaps in the supply chain now that are pushing up prices.

For example, red leaf lettuce that was selling at wholesale for $12 to $15 a carton at this time last year is now going for twice that much -- $25 to $30. Romaine hearts that were $18 to $20 wholesale last year are now $21 to $25.

So far iceberg lettuce has been holding steady, but produce pros say that we should starting seeing a gap in that in the next week or so.

Cauliflower is similarly high -- $24 to $28 a wholesale carton, compared with $12 to $13 just this February.

Every increase in the wholesale price does not create a corresponding bump at retail because supermarkets like to keep prices as steady as possible, even if it means taking a loss sometimes.

But almost invariably with increases on this scale, prices are going to go up.

It all comes down to a nasty trick Mother Nature played on farmers this winter.

Farmers plant in different areas in order to assure a steady supply of vegetables. In the case of lettuce, they plan the winter harvest out of the Coachella Valley and Yuma, Ariz., to segue smoothly to the spring and summer harvests from various fields in the Salinas Valley.

This way, they’ll be able to offer a dependable inventory at consistent prices, if the weather cooperates.

But this winter was anything but cooperative, says Mark McBride of Coastline Family Farms, a major vegetable grower based in the Salinas Valley.

“As soon as we put our best-laid plans on paper, Mother Nature comes along,” he says. “When the weather is warmer than normal, the crops mature and come to harvest earlier.”

The problem comes when those fields are finished being harvested before the next ones are ready.

“All winter we’ve been 10 to 21 days ahead of schedule, and for the next few weeks, we’re going to have to pay the piper for that,” McBride says.

First, the warm winter weather was a blessing to shoppers, as the early Salinas and late desert harvests collided, creating a glut of lettuce that drove prices so low that, McBride says, some growers didn’t even harvest all of their fields.

But now comes the payback as the Salinas fields that were planted next in the rotation are not yet ready.

McBride says that once this little hiccup works its way through the supply chain in late May or early June, things should return to normal -- or as normal as farming gets anyway.

Are you a food geek? Follow me on Twitter @russ_parsons1.

Get our weekly Tasting Notes newsletter for reviews, news and more.

You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.

Russ Parsons is a former Food writer and columnist and the former editor of the Food section at the Los Angeles Times.

More From the Los Angeles Times

A family-run tortilla factory in Boyle Heights is in danger of closing amid an eminent domain dispute with the city over relocation fees for its tortilla machines.

Residents are being warned not to eat mussels and other potentially toxic shellfish collected by sports harvesters from coastal waters.

In ‘Ripe Figs’ author Yasmin Khan offers grilling recipes from Turkey, Greece and Cyprus.


Why lettuce is getting so expensive

If you’re making a salad in the next couple of weeks, you might want to consider switching to arugula — lettuce might be too expensive. And don’t even think about putting any cauliflower in it.

It’s all because of that wacky winter weather -- and despite what you might expect, the drought has nothing to do with it.

Instead, it was the warm temperatures in January and February that pushed some winter vegetables to peak harvest way too early, leaving gaps in the supply chain now that are pushing up prices.

For example, red leaf lettuce that was selling at wholesale for $12 to $15 a carton at this time last year is now going for twice that much -- $25 to $30. Romaine hearts that were $18 to $20 wholesale last year are now $21 to $25.

So far iceberg lettuce has been holding steady, but produce pros say that we should starting seeing a gap in that in the next week or so.

Cauliflower is similarly high -- $24 to $28 a wholesale carton, compared with $12 to $13 just this February.

Every increase in the wholesale price does not create a corresponding bump at retail because supermarkets like to keep prices as steady as possible, even if it means taking a loss sometimes.

But almost invariably with increases on this scale, prices are going to go up.

It all comes down to a nasty trick Mother Nature played on farmers this winter.

Farmers plant in different areas in order to assure a steady supply of vegetables. In the case of lettuce, they plan the winter harvest out of the Coachella Valley and Yuma, Ariz., to segue smoothly to the spring and summer harvests from various fields in the Salinas Valley.

This way, they’ll be able to offer a dependable inventory at consistent prices, if the weather cooperates.

But this winter was anything but cooperative, says Mark McBride of Coastline Family Farms, a major vegetable grower based in the Salinas Valley.

“As soon as we put our best-laid plans on paper, Mother Nature comes along,” he says. “When the weather is warmer than normal, the crops mature and come to harvest earlier.”

The problem comes when those fields are finished being harvested before the next ones are ready.

“All winter we’ve been 10 to 21 days ahead of schedule, and for the next few weeks, we’re going to have to pay the piper for that,” McBride says.

First, the warm winter weather was a blessing to shoppers, as the early Salinas and late desert harvests collided, creating a glut of lettuce that drove prices so low that, McBride says, some growers didn’t even harvest all of their fields.

But now comes the payback as the Salinas fields that were planted next in the rotation are not yet ready.

McBride says that once this little hiccup works its way through the supply chain in late May or early June, things should return to normal -- or as normal as farming gets anyway.

Are you a food geek? Follow me on Twitter @russ_parsons1.

Get our weekly Tasting Notes newsletter for reviews, news and more.

You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.

Russ Parsons is a former Food writer and columnist and the former editor of the Food section at the Los Angeles Times.

More From the Los Angeles Times

A family-run tortilla factory in Boyle Heights is in danger of closing amid an eminent domain dispute with the city over relocation fees for its tortilla machines.

Residents are being warned not to eat mussels and other potentially toxic shellfish collected by sports harvesters from coastal waters.

In ‘Ripe Figs’ author Yasmin Khan offers grilling recipes from Turkey, Greece and Cyprus.


Why lettuce is getting so expensive

If you’re making a salad in the next couple of weeks, you might want to consider switching to arugula — lettuce might be too expensive. And don’t even think about putting any cauliflower in it.

It’s all because of that wacky winter weather -- and despite what you might expect, the drought has nothing to do with it.

Instead, it was the warm temperatures in January and February that pushed some winter vegetables to peak harvest way too early, leaving gaps in the supply chain now that are pushing up prices.

For example, red leaf lettuce that was selling at wholesale for $12 to $15 a carton at this time last year is now going for twice that much -- $25 to $30. Romaine hearts that were $18 to $20 wholesale last year are now $21 to $25.

So far iceberg lettuce has been holding steady, but produce pros say that we should starting seeing a gap in that in the next week or so.

Cauliflower is similarly high -- $24 to $28 a wholesale carton, compared with $12 to $13 just this February.

Every increase in the wholesale price does not create a corresponding bump at retail because supermarkets like to keep prices as steady as possible, even if it means taking a loss sometimes.

But almost invariably with increases on this scale, prices are going to go up.

It all comes down to a nasty trick Mother Nature played on farmers this winter.

Farmers plant in different areas in order to assure a steady supply of vegetables. In the case of lettuce, they plan the winter harvest out of the Coachella Valley and Yuma, Ariz., to segue smoothly to the spring and summer harvests from various fields in the Salinas Valley.

This way, they’ll be able to offer a dependable inventory at consistent prices, if the weather cooperates.

But this winter was anything but cooperative, says Mark McBride of Coastline Family Farms, a major vegetable grower based in the Salinas Valley.

“As soon as we put our best-laid plans on paper, Mother Nature comes along,” he says. “When the weather is warmer than normal, the crops mature and come to harvest earlier.”

The problem comes when those fields are finished being harvested before the next ones are ready.

“All winter we’ve been 10 to 21 days ahead of schedule, and for the next few weeks, we’re going to have to pay the piper for that,” McBride says.

First, the warm winter weather was a blessing to shoppers, as the early Salinas and late desert harvests collided, creating a glut of lettuce that drove prices so low that, McBride says, some growers didn’t even harvest all of their fields.

But now comes the payback as the Salinas fields that were planted next in the rotation are not yet ready.

McBride says that once this little hiccup works its way through the supply chain in late May or early June, things should return to normal -- or as normal as farming gets anyway.

Are you a food geek? Follow me on Twitter @russ_parsons1.

Get our weekly Tasting Notes newsletter for reviews, news and more.

You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.

Russ Parsons is a former Food writer and columnist and the former editor of the Food section at the Los Angeles Times.

More From the Los Angeles Times

A family-run tortilla factory in Boyle Heights is in danger of closing amid an eminent domain dispute with the city over relocation fees for its tortilla machines.

Residents are being warned not to eat mussels and other potentially toxic shellfish collected by sports harvesters from coastal waters.

In ‘Ripe Figs’ author Yasmin Khan offers grilling recipes from Turkey, Greece and Cyprus.


Why lettuce is getting so expensive

If you’re making a salad in the next couple of weeks, you might want to consider switching to arugula — lettuce might be too expensive. And don’t even think about putting any cauliflower in it.

It’s all because of that wacky winter weather -- and despite what you might expect, the drought has nothing to do with it.

Instead, it was the warm temperatures in January and February that pushed some winter vegetables to peak harvest way too early, leaving gaps in the supply chain now that are pushing up prices.

For example, red leaf lettuce that was selling at wholesale for $12 to $15 a carton at this time last year is now going for twice that much -- $25 to $30. Romaine hearts that were $18 to $20 wholesale last year are now $21 to $25.

So far iceberg lettuce has been holding steady, but produce pros say that we should starting seeing a gap in that in the next week or so.

Cauliflower is similarly high -- $24 to $28 a wholesale carton, compared with $12 to $13 just this February.

Every increase in the wholesale price does not create a corresponding bump at retail because supermarkets like to keep prices as steady as possible, even if it means taking a loss sometimes.

But almost invariably with increases on this scale, prices are going to go up.

It all comes down to a nasty trick Mother Nature played on farmers this winter.

Farmers plant in different areas in order to assure a steady supply of vegetables. In the case of lettuce, they plan the winter harvest out of the Coachella Valley and Yuma, Ariz., to segue smoothly to the spring and summer harvests from various fields in the Salinas Valley.

This way, they’ll be able to offer a dependable inventory at consistent prices, if the weather cooperates.

But this winter was anything but cooperative, says Mark McBride of Coastline Family Farms, a major vegetable grower based in the Salinas Valley.

“As soon as we put our best-laid plans on paper, Mother Nature comes along,” he says. “When the weather is warmer than normal, the crops mature and come to harvest earlier.”

The problem comes when those fields are finished being harvested before the next ones are ready.

“All winter we’ve been 10 to 21 days ahead of schedule, and for the next few weeks, we’re going to have to pay the piper for that,” McBride says.

First, the warm winter weather was a blessing to shoppers, as the early Salinas and late desert harvests collided, creating a glut of lettuce that drove prices so low that, McBride says, some growers didn’t even harvest all of their fields.

But now comes the payback as the Salinas fields that were planted next in the rotation are not yet ready.

McBride says that once this little hiccup works its way through the supply chain in late May or early June, things should return to normal -- or as normal as farming gets anyway.

Are you a food geek? Follow me on Twitter @russ_parsons1.

Get our weekly Tasting Notes newsletter for reviews, news and more.

You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.

Russ Parsons is a former Food writer and columnist and the former editor of the Food section at the Los Angeles Times.

More From the Los Angeles Times

A family-run tortilla factory in Boyle Heights is in danger of closing amid an eminent domain dispute with the city over relocation fees for its tortilla machines.

Residents are being warned not to eat mussels and other potentially toxic shellfish collected by sports harvesters from coastal waters.

In ‘Ripe Figs’ author Yasmin Khan offers grilling recipes from Turkey, Greece and Cyprus.


Why lettuce is getting so expensive

If you’re making a salad in the next couple of weeks, you might want to consider switching to arugula — lettuce might be too expensive. And don’t even think about putting any cauliflower in it.

It’s all because of that wacky winter weather -- and despite what you might expect, the drought has nothing to do with it.

Instead, it was the warm temperatures in January and February that pushed some winter vegetables to peak harvest way too early, leaving gaps in the supply chain now that are pushing up prices.

For example, red leaf lettuce that was selling at wholesale for $12 to $15 a carton at this time last year is now going for twice that much -- $25 to $30. Romaine hearts that were $18 to $20 wholesale last year are now $21 to $25.

So far iceberg lettuce has been holding steady, but produce pros say that we should starting seeing a gap in that in the next week or so.

Cauliflower is similarly high -- $24 to $28 a wholesale carton, compared with $12 to $13 just this February.

Every increase in the wholesale price does not create a corresponding bump at retail because supermarkets like to keep prices as steady as possible, even if it means taking a loss sometimes.

But almost invariably with increases on this scale, prices are going to go up.

It all comes down to a nasty trick Mother Nature played on farmers this winter.

Farmers plant in different areas in order to assure a steady supply of vegetables. In the case of lettuce, they plan the winter harvest out of the Coachella Valley and Yuma, Ariz., to segue smoothly to the spring and summer harvests from various fields in the Salinas Valley.

This way, they’ll be able to offer a dependable inventory at consistent prices, if the weather cooperates.

But this winter was anything but cooperative, says Mark McBride of Coastline Family Farms, a major vegetable grower based in the Salinas Valley.

“As soon as we put our best-laid plans on paper, Mother Nature comes along,” he says. “When the weather is warmer than normal, the crops mature and come to harvest earlier.”

The problem comes when those fields are finished being harvested before the next ones are ready.

“All winter we’ve been 10 to 21 days ahead of schedule, and for the next few weeks, we’re going to have to pay the piper for that,” McBride says.

First, the warm winter weather was a blessing to shoppers, as the early Salinas and late desert harvests collided, creating a glut of lettuce that drove prices so low that, McBride says, some growers didn’t even harvest all of their fields.

But now comes the payback as the Salinas fields that were planted next in the rotation are not yet ready.

McBride says that once this little hiccup works its way through the supply chain in late May or early June, things should return to normal -- or as normal as farming gets anyway.

Are you a food geek? Follow me on Twitter @russ_parsons1.

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Russ Parsons is a former Food writer and columnist and the former editor of the Food section at the Los Angeles Times.

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