There’s a cauliflower shortage in the US – guess why?


Cold weather in certain growing areas and the popularity of low-carb/paleo diets have resulted in a severe US cauliflower shortage. The shortage is predicted to last well into January.

The proliferation of paleo and low-carb diets promoting the use of cauliflower hasn’t helped matters; cauliflower is now sometimes used as a rice or potato substitute or to form pizza crust

Quartz: There’s a Cauliflower Shortage in the US, and It’s Making Prices Skyrocket

Do you have cauliflower at home? Try these delicious dishes:

Cauliflower recipes


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Butter shortage in Sweden

Broccoli (!) Gets a Marketing Campaign


  1. Apicius
    The Yuma (Arizona) and Imperial Valley (California) regions are also high producers of sugar beets, for the local C&H granulated sugar factory. Maybe if they transform their fields of sugar beets for cauliflower instead the problem is easily solved! According to the news article, these two regions are the sources of the cauliflower shortage for US.
  2. Apicius
    Here's information on the largest sugar beet growing area in California, and the local sugar manufacturing plant:

    This is the region where the cauliflower shortage is happening, according to the Quartz news article.

    Anybody want to guess what a possible solution to increasing cauliflower production may be in this area? I think the answer is obvious.

    I also wonder what the revenue economics per square kilometre may be when switching crops (beets to cauliflower), as well as what impact any government subsidies is having in this area to influence types of crops, too. There is an impact on labour force, too. Beets are harvested by machines, and then processed in a large production plant, employing many people. Cauliflower on the other hand is harvested by manual labour, out in the fields, and just stored before being transported to point of sale (minimal processing).

  3. Dee
    A bit of info about beets - tho high carb, they are essential to many dairy farms for that reason and to boost milk production. I understand that we humans on low carb diets would rather eat the cauliflower, beets are beneficial to the cows. I'm not sure if beef producers use beets or not, but, around NY, beet pulp is used in mass quantities. So, that could be the reason for so many acres being devoted to that crop. Beet juice is also being used experimentally for icy road conditions since it is active at below zero temps when salting roads will not work :-)
  4. Devon
    First off... I am from Brawley and the sugar beet production is only a very...very small percentage of the over 1 Billion dollars in ag that is produced there. My family still lives there and I lived there much of my life. These valleys are also referred to as the salad bowl. Pretty much anything vegetable that goes into our salads and on our plates comes from there. The plant you reference does produce sugar, but it also produces from the entire plant feed for cattle, mulch/fertilizer for fields, and so much more from the natural byproducts that come from the sugar production process. You also haven't considered that all of these crops draw particular nutrients from the ground and the crops have to be rotated to ensure healthy and viable production. One field that may be cauliflower or broccoli one year probably won't be the next year. Their grow season starts in September and ends by about April. Only alphalfa, hay, corn, and Sudan grass grow during the summer. The major issue that isn't really mentioned is the water shortage in California and SW U.S., in particular, both the Yuma and Imperial Valleys. Both derive water from the Colorado River and lie at the very bottom of the river before the water enters Mexico and flows into the sea. So they are the last areas to receive water (which has to go through several dams and provide water and electricity to several major cities), which for being one of the biggest producers of food for the entire U.S. can be very counterproductive. Farmers have to pay high rates for the water for their fields. This means farmers have to take into great consideration what each crops water requirement is for the cycle of that crop versus the profit. There are so many things to consider and this is just a small list of the things that are thought about. I'm not even going to touch the labor issue. So as you can see it's not as easy as just telling the farmers to grow cauliflower instead of sugar beets. I wish it was, but cauliflower has never been the major focus of my low carb diet. I do love it, but it's for special occasions really when I want to make the mashed potatoes etc. And this comes from the person that could walk across the road and pick the cauliflower out of the field. Before you jump down my throat for stealing I know the farmer.
    Reply: #5
  5. Apicius
    Sugar beet production yields 26 tonnes sugar per hectare

    Cauliflower production yields 35000 plants per hectare

    If LCHF will become more popular, which will likely increase cauliflower consumption and decrease sugar consumption, my guess is that the imperial valley farmers will need to consider the above data in planning their crops.

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