The Pacific’s cold La Nina brought chilly weather to the West. Then there was in the north, the negative Arctic Oscillation allowing the freezing polar air mass to sink south, into the United States. Followed by to the east, the Atlantic was in the grip of a lethal weather pattern—the negative North Atlantic Oscillation which was driving the cold all the way to Florida.The Florida crop was frozen in January, so consumers turned to supplies from Arizona and Mexico. Then in early February, Mexico and the Southwest were hit with the worst freeze in over fifty years. The final straw was the Groundhog Day blizzard which killed all the tomato crops in Florida and Mexico.
The major casualties of all this ugly weather have been beans, bell peppers, cucumbers, lettuce, squash, and tomatoes. And eggplants: Just try to find eggplants! The lettuce is being salvaged by stripping off the damaged outer leaves, so expect to find smaller heads at your grocery stores.
This shortage is not just in America. Globally, this has been an awful year for vegetables. Last October, the United Kingdom’s Guardian newspaper was reporting a shortage of tomatoes in the Middle East, where the vegetable is a staple in the local diet. The price of tomatoes had tripled in Turkey and increased eightfold in Israel. The newspaper also reported that Egyptians were staging street protests over the cost of tomatoes.
Here’s the good news. The next harvest of vegetables should begin to appear in stores in late March. Spring is coming and the deadly weather trio is backing off: The La Niña is fading and the NAO and AO are positive.
Most of the crop supplies will be recovered by April, although you may have to wait until May for juicy beefsteak tomatoes. Meanwhile, the tough little cabbages survived everything that Mother Nature cooked up. I am thinking cole slaw, cabbage soup and ,cabbage rolls are going on my dinner menu here.