The Sticky Files - Marisca Bakker

Lettuce get through another food shortage

Marisca discusses the latest food shortage and possible ways around it

Another week, another food shortage.

This time it seems like lettuce is impossible to buy. You don’t realize how much salad you eat, or suddenly crave, until you can’t seem to get any. The few heads of romaine I have seen are crazy expensive and don’t look that nice. I love to buy prepackaged Caesar salads but I can’t justify the prices of them right now.

I’m trying to eat slightly healthier before the holidays but it’s tough when healthy foods are way more expensive than junkier ones and impossible to find.

StatCan reported that lettuce was 30 per cent more expensive this October compared to the same time last year.

In Canada, once our growing season is over, we import lettuce from further south. The current lettuce shortage is from California’s drought followed by a virus that wreaked havoc on the already vulnerable, dry lettuce plants. Less lettuce means higher prices, even if it is crappier than usual.

Some restaurants have even pulled salads from their menus and most grocery stores have set limits on how much one shopper can buy.

However, the beautiful thing about lettuce is that it can be easily substituted. The most obvious is kale. A kale Caesar salad is delicious, crunchier and healthier.

The dark green leafy superfood is a superstar because of the amounts of vitamins A, K, B6 and C, calcium, potassium, copper and manganese it contains. One cup of raw kale has just 33 calories and only seven grams of carbohydrates.

My freezer is currently full of kale that I grew over the summer. We use it in smoothies and toss it into mashed potatoes.

Spinach, although it may also be hard to find right now, can make a good substitute for salads and to pack into sandwiches.

Another fun switch-up for lettuce is Brussel sprouts. Not only do they look like tiny little heads of lettuce but can be sliced thinly or even grated to make the base of a salad. Eating raw brussel sprouts may also help you stave off other health issues, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, and diabetes.

While you may not be able to find your usual, favourite, leafy greens in the grocery store right now, there are alternatives.

I’m learning to be creative, keep an open mind and not be disappointed when I hit up the stores anymore. My menu planning for the week is done in pencil and I’ve learned to keep frozen and canned veggies on hand.

Canned foods can be just as nutritious as fresh because canning preserves many nutrients. According to the amount of minerals, fat-soluble vitamins, protein, fat and carbohydrate remain relatively unchanged by the process of canning. You just need to watch the sodium content when buying certain brands from the shelf.

Christmas dinner might look different this year, but we can be grateful for what we do have on our plates.

MORE STICKY FILES: Outdoor activity can stave off the winter blues


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