The Latch’s Most Influential Vegetable of the Year: Lettuce

In 2021, lettuce was just a wet crunch that sat upon our burgers. However, in 2022, everything changed for this vegetable. According to Google Trends, searches for lettuce across the last five years have gone through the roof. What’s more, this year isn’t even over yet.

But why is 2022 the year of the lettuce? What has changed for this vegetable? Is it now famous or infamous or both? Let’s dig into the facts:

March: The Australian Lettuce Shortage

Unfortunately, the lettuce discourse isn’t all banter and memes. Back in March, major flooding across Queensland and NSW wiped out a whack of this product. 

“All herbs, cabbage, cauliflower, cos and iceberg lettuce are heavily impacted. There is none of that going to restaurants or the Sydney markets, and we’re going to have major shortages,” said Robert Lo, the owner of produce supplier, Pro Bros Providore.

“With the Queensland floods and rain going down to Victoria, the only state we can get produce from is Victoria.”

In June, this situation escalated when Australia’s major supermarkets started selling lettuce for at least $10.00 a pop. This event felt absolutely absurd, especially when some farmers later claimed that the supermarkets were pocketing this price increase. 

As NSW Farmers CEO, Pete Arkle, said in July, “We’ve seen the major retailers are taking a fair share of this $12.00 lettuce price. A lot of that value is not going to farmers.”

Mercifully, in recent times, the prices of lettuce have begun to drop lower. Multiple supermarkets stated so near the end of September. 

“Pleasingly, the warmer weather has brought with it a return to lower prices, with a range of produce including lettuce, berries, tomato, broccoli and cucumber back in strong supply,” said a spokesperson for Woolworths,

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for ALDI said, “The supply of lettuce, loose-leaf greens and other fresh produce has stabilised as a new yield of crops have been picked and delivered to stores, resulting in a normalisation of prices and availability.”

Related: How Growing Your Own Veggies Could Lower Your Food Bill

Related: 5 Hacks Chef Dani Venn Uses to Make Leftovers Taste Better (While Still Being Sustainable) 

October: Long Live Lettuce, the New Prime Minister of Britain

On a much lighter note, The Daily Star put a blonde wig on a piece of iceberg lettuce from Tesco. They did this on October 14 to find out if it could outlast Liz Truss’ United Kingdom prime ministership, putting to the test an Economist quip that said her leadership had “roughly the shelf life of a lettuce”. On October 21, Liz Truss resigned, and the lettuce stood strong.

The resignation of Liz Truss was a big deal, as she had only been in office for 44 days. During that time, she was the subject of a number of controversies. For instance, Truss announced major tax cuts, which in turn, caused the financial markets to panic and the pound to plummet. This decision was later reversed by her government.

These types of events made some media outlets question whether or not she could hack it as the United Kingdom’s prime minister.   

When Liz Truss made her resignation speech, 20,000 people tuned into a YouTube live stream of this lettuce. A crown was also placed on the iceberg, and many folks took to social media to congratulate it. 

Even other media outlets got in on the joke. For instance, France’s News 24 said, “What do British Prime Minister Liz Truss’s political mandate and a head of wilted lettuce have in common, you might ask? They both have an expiry date.”

Read more stories from The Latch and subscribe to our email newsletter.