National arugula shortage due to wet, cold growing conditions

Farms in Florida and the Southwest are seeing lower yields.

January 28, 2020, 1:53 PM

Sad news for salad fans who enjoy the peppery bite of arugula over other lettuces: there's a national shortage.

The shortfall is due to the "unexpectedly cold and wet winter weather facing growers throughout the Southwest," according to the New Food Economy.

Those harsh conditions "paved the way for the spread of a fungal disease called downy mildew," which has made it difficult to produce healthy crops, the article further explained.

The shortage has already been felt by shoppers, purveyors and and diners across the country.

In New York, the fast casual Mediterranean restaurant chain Cava posted signs Monday saying there was no arugula available for their mixed greens or grain bowls.

PHOTO: Fresh arugula in a wooden bowl is seen in this stock photo.
STOCK PHOTO/Shutterstock

A specialty foods store owner in Lafayette, California, told ABC News San Francisco station KGO that he's noticed a lack of the lacey leafed green at most stores in the area.

"Safeway didn't have it -- Whole Foods, Trader Joe's didn't have it locally," Nate Bradley said.

"When we didn't have it, we tried to find a replacement with baby kale, but it just wasn't the same," he said of the staple ingredient for his shop's signature salad.

Other shoppers have even sounded off on social media about the apparent shortage.

Trevor Suslow, an extension research specialist at the University of California, Davis told the New Food Economy that any mildew-infected arugula is vulnerable to "secondary spoilage." Even after farmers package and ship the greens, Suslow explained that bacteria and mold "can grow even under refrigeration temperatures," making it difficult for any greens to arrive at stores at peak freshness.

With a bulk of producers in the Southwest and Florida that grow the cruciferous vegetable this time of year, many regions have felt the impact in their rocket supply chain.

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