With the E. coli outbreak that infected one variety of Arizona's lettuce crop now seemingly at an end, the Farm Bureau has urged all concerned to romaine calm. However, the fallout from the crisis has had a devastating financial impact on the entire lettuce market. Sales figures for last month reveal that chard is now a head of red and green leaf lettuce in gross revenue.
While the price of lettuce has fallen due to the public's reluctance to eat it, so has the value of celery stock, since lettuce salads often contain it. Carrots are caught in the crunch as well.
As a result, worried vegetable growers gathered last week in Salinas, heralded as "the lettuce capital of the world," to promote a media blitz in response to the negative publicity. Under the banner "Let Us Move Forward," they sought to perfect a strategic plan to reverse their losses. Though satisfied with the proposal, "It probably needs a little seasoning," said a wholesaler.
One suggestion was to change the name of the crop that was the recipient of the "Ptomaine Romaine" slur. "What our product needs," offered one grower, "is to be marketed in a new dressing, which a change of name would achieve."
Some marketing experts argue that the salad days of lettuce as a profitable crop are over, and that it's time to turn a new leaf. Some growers believe they would do better harvesting broccoli. Rumors indicate that George W. Bush would even endorse the crop if he is asked.