Other leafy greens springing up in absence of romaine lettuce on P.E.I.
'We all rely on greens. It's a staple in our foods'
A high demand for leafy greens is making it tougher for some grocery stores and restaurants to source alternative options for romaine lettuce after it was pulled from shelves in recent weeks due to E. coli contamination.
Consumers are looking for other options in the absence of romaine lettuce even though the Island is not on the list of provinces warned by the federal government about the latest outbreak.
"Instead of having caesar salad, which we like to have a lot, we are just having other greens," said customer Susan Snow about the change on her family's dinner table.
"So we are having broccoli salads, spinach salads, coleslaw, so we just figured out a different way to get salads because we are huge salad lovers."
That demand from consumers looking for other options has made it more challenging for grocers to stock up on alternatives.
"We all rely on greens. It's a staple in our foods," said Shadi Sahely, manager at Brighton Clover Farm.
He says it has been weeks since they have had romaine lettuce on the shelves, causing more people to seek alternatives.
"I found that since romaine has been off the shelf that we have been selling more spinach," Sahely said. "I think spinach has taken over ... what people are using now for their salads and so on."
The demand for other lettuce has also affected some businesses that don't even use romaine, like Charlottetown's Terre Rouge.
"We were ordering kale and we got shorted just because there's been an uplift in other greens because everyone just threw out their romaine," said head chef Lucy Morrow.
Using more local produce
They source local, organic greens for the dishes served there but lately have found kale tougher to come by.
"One thing to come out of this romaine crisis is to know more about where your food is coming from," Morrow said.
"I take this is an opportunity to start purchasing some local greens, then definitely no E. coli."
Some Island grocers are saying they are starting to see wholesale prices climb for other kinds of lettuce, as well as spinach.
Sahely said he still has 20 heads of romaine lettuce in his cooler — but those will be trashed, after the distributor tallies his refund.
He checked with his supplier today and there was still no word on when romaine lettuce will be back on the shelves.
No timeline for return of romaine
For some consumers like Snow, they will be waiting for their favourite lettuce to get a clean bill of health.
"It kind of makes me nervous. I've always washed my romaine lettuce really carefully ... when I heard that you can't even clean it, I found that really disturbing," said Snow.
"So when it seems to be okay again, I'll probably go back for more."
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With files from Brian Higgins