by Marion Nestle
Oct 6 2023

Weekend reading: the cost of growing Romaine lettuce in California

Every now and then I run across a report about something I know absolutely nothing about but wish I did, and this is one of them—an analysis from the University of California on Sample Costs to Produce and Harvest Romaine Hearts Lettuce.

I’m particularly interested in Romaine because it is one of those foods that turns up frequently in food poisoning incidents.  Why?  Because in California and Arizona it is often grown in close proximity to Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), as shown in the Netflix film, Poisoned, in which I appear briefly.

Bill Marler, the lawyer featured in the film, does not eat bagged Romaine.  Neither do I.

The cost analysis, which concludes that it takes about $17,000 an acre to produce Romaine, does not factor in fmeasures to assure safety.

But what it does consider is impressive.  Here is just the first part of a Table that continues well into another page.

I would not have guessed.

I grow Romaine lettuce in pots on my Manhattan terrace.  All I pay for is seeds.  I’ve never gotten sick from eating it.

Apparently, industrial lettuce is an entirely different matter.

Enjoy the weekend!