Start Prepping Now for a Possible Global Kale Shortage

Gather ye cruciferous leaves while ye may, and all that.
Gather ye cruciferous leaves while ye may, and all that. Photo: Shutterstock

The kale business is beyond booming in Australia, where demand for seeds has apparently overtaken supply, and the abrupt growth of orders for the leafy crucifer has now outstripped what farmers are able to produce in the fields, be it Tuscan or curly, by far. “A worldwide kale shortage is here at last,” Modern Farmer announces, death knell set to reverb.

“We probably only planted probably 3,000 or 4,000 plants a season. Now we’re up to about 25,000 plants. I still haven’t had enough,” a farmer says, echoing a sentiment shared by others who are rotating in as many as 150,000 seedlings a week in an attempt to catch up. Producers have increasingly uprooted and abandoned other crops such as leeks in favor of the green-juice staple, so even a few weeks of insufficient kale is devastating to an industry that otherwise shows no signs of slowing down with the smoothies. We just keep on juicing the hell out of it.

So, is it time to panic? Well, unlike past shortages — real and overblown — of Velveeta, guacamole, wild salmon, Trappist-monk-made beer, bourbon, gefilte fish, bacon, and Angostura bitters, this one is much less of a climate-related or seasonal thing. In most areas where it’s grown, kale is year-round, meaning those plants take up a precious amount of real estate in the field. John Moore, founder of lollipop kale producer Salad Savoy, told Grub earlier this year he resorts to a technique called “tickling” the kale plants to get his desired results. Without the seeds, though, there’s nothing to tickle. Maybe it’s best to give the kale a break for a while in favor of collards and broccoli? The less popular vegetables are the same species, after all, and perhaps even more nutritious.

Ration Your Green Juice: The Great Kale Shortage Is Upon Us [Modern Farmer]