Let Us Understand Why
It was only a few weeks ago that Romaine Lettuce was off the market and we were basically given the impression that it was almost like poison.
I was thinking about that the other day when I ran into Bryan Wallach, who runs the family-owned and operated Wallach’s Farm Market & Deli on Route 9 in Toms River. The business was founded in 1926 and today is owned by Stan Wallach with his son Bryan serving as the face of the operation.
I got into a conversation with him and the subject of the recent Romaine “scare” came up. He asked me if we had any of the lettuce in our refrigerator when the story first broke two days before Thanksgiving and I said yes.
His next question was, “what did you do” and I responded “threw it away naturally.” That’s when Bryan followed up and asked, "did you give any thought to those in the business of selling Romaine and what it meant to them?” Of course my answer was “no.”
Wallach’s sells produce, including lettuce so when the CDC (Center for Disease Control) posted a warning advising consumers to throw out Romaine products of all varieties it clearly had an adverse effect of them and many others. They do not just sell to their customers in the store but to restaurants and other retailers and while their waste was significant it paled in comparison to what others in the produce business lost.
I say this because the real question is: was the advice to throw all the lettuce out deserved?
There was never an official recall and here we are three weeks later and all we have from the CDC is that they’ve narrowed the investigation to some distributors, growers and farms in California which is like me telling you I’ve narrowed the football struggles of the Jets to lack of offense, defense and special teams. I mean California is the main growing area for lettuce products between May-November.
Meanwhile in those three weeks demand for all non-romaine lettuce has risen sharply as have prices, in some cases nearly triple what they were. You may have noticed that Iceberg lettuce is at times tough to get and if you can you are paying more for it. It’s just another example of supply and demand and it’s not just the consumer who suffers.