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Austin Stores Could See Green Leafy Vegetable Shortage
Several local grocery stores are warning customers of a shortage of spinach, kale and arugula -- because of freezing temperatures in southern California.
Randalls grocery stores began handing out flyers, giving customers a heads up of a possible salad shortage. But places like Wheatsville Food Co-op don't anticipate having the same problem since much of their fresh produce - like kale - is locally grown and distributed.
Angela Pack-Zia is a busy woman. The stay-at-home mom has a diabetic husband and daughter with food allergies. So fresh veggies are a big part of the family's diet.
"Definitely a good third of our diet," said pack-Zia.
At $2.29 a bushel, Pack-Zia says kale is a good buy. But it's increasingly harder to come by.
"I'm seeing food prices increase everywhere," added Pack-Zia.
A harsh California climate is taking a toll on salad staples -- like kale, spinach and arugula. Randalls isn't the only grocery chain feeling the pinch. In a statement released to KEYE TV, H-E-B says:
"Southern California growing region experienced freezing nighttime temperatures and many crops were impacted. These crop issues will impact supplies for most of the remainder of the winter harvest."
That means H-E-B customers could see shortages of a day or two through the end of March. That could affect Ana Crow's health. She has low iron and relies on daily spinach shakes.
"Definitely so," Crow answered when asked if the shortage would affect her. She said she'd be willing to pay a higher price to see them on the shelf.
But there are alternatives. Grocers like Whole Foods and Wheatsville Food Co-op aren't being affected.
"We're able to get a lot of organic fruits and veggies from right here in Texas. That insulates us from a lot of what larger grocers go through," said Brand Manager Raquel Damono.
And for middle-class moms like Pack-Zia who buy on a budget, cost and consistency are key.
So you may think the answer to the shortage is to stock up. Unfortunately fresh veggies have a limited shelf life. The good news is that the shortage isn't expected to affect price. Both Randalls and H-E-B tell me they expect to keep prices on kale, spinach and arugula stagnant. Whole foods and Wheatsville don't anticipate any change.
By Alex Boyer