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Local veggie prices skyrocket with U.S. cold snap 0

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver

The costs for some produce has skyrocketed at local shops such as Donald's Market on Commercial drive, where manager Gary Joe works. Cold weather is expected to affect the price of imported crops until the end of March.

The costs for some produce has skyrocketed at local shops such as Donald's Market on Commercial drive, where manager Gary Joe works. Cold weather is expected to affect the price of imported crops until the end of March.

Avoid purchasing leafy greens until spring, unless premium prices are your thing.

That’s the message from B.C. Minister of Agriculture Norm Letnick as the price of some produce has skyrocketed in the local market due to cold weather south of the border.

Gary Joe, general manager at Donald’s Market in Vancouver, said the price of salad items, such as romaine lettuce, has more than doubled this season. While price aren’t expected to drop until the end of March or early April, there are options, he added.

“Carrots, parsnips, beets, turnips, those are all considered root vegetables,” he said, attributing the increased costs to “freezing” temperatures in Washington state and California. “Those haven’t gone up in price because they’re (also) grown in the winter.”

Letnick said it’s “unfortunate” people have to pay more. He didn’t know about the issue until he was notified this week, despite having staff at the ministry monitoring the situation.

“It really encourages people to look at buying local,” he said. “We have alternatives to the leafy vegetables, home-grown turnips, potatoes, beets, squash and cabbage.”

Reg Ens, BC Agricultural Council head, said the situation is a sign the province needs to invest in a long-term local food strategy. He added the high import prices could be a good sign for local farmers, too.

“Prices have been so low before, product was coming from overseas and B.C. farmers couldn’t afford to grow it. So they stopped growing stuff.”

Letnick said the provincial agriculture industry is getting a $500-million infusion to “roll out” in April with 60% of the cash coming from Ottawa and the rest from Victoria.

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Have you considered cheaper local options instead of pricey imported greens?

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