Veggie drought making salads look limp

A widespread vegetable shortage has taken the 'T' out of BLT - or bacon, lettuce and tomato - sandwiches and is making salad plates decidedly less colorful.

The deep freeze that struck crops in Florida, Texas and Mexico has caused a massive shortage in tomatoes, cucumbers and bell peppers and has sent restaurants and suppliers scrambling to find other sources.  Grocery stores have also been posting signs warning consumers that prices are expected to skyrocket.

The vegetable drought is expected to last until April when temperatures thaw out and a new crop will be available.

The shortage has forced some restaurants to make adjustments to their menus. Fast-food chain Wendy's, for example, told The Chicago-Tribune that  they'll be holding the tomatoes on their hamburgers and will only serve them upon request.

Likewise, sandwich chain Subway told the newspaper they're experiencing a shortage of green bell peppers and tomatoes which they're trying to source from additional regions.

Growers in Florida report that the price for a 25lb (11 kg) box of tomatoes has almost doubled to $30 since the freeze struck.

The US experienced a similar tomato shortage last spring, also caused by unseasonably cold weather. The freeze destroyed 60 percent of Florida's tomato crop and drove prices skyward.

According to the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange, the sunshine state ships more than 1.1 billion pounds (half a billion kilograms) of fresh tomatoes to the US and Canada.

Earlier this year, an onion shortage caused an uproar in India, sparking village protests, political drama and even a diplomatic spat with neighboring Pakistan.

The shortage was caused by unseasonal monsoon rains and the lack of a new harvest.

 

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