Last week I decided to go out of my way to shop in the newly-reopened Market Basket, where an odd and riveting labor action just ended. I had the distinct impression that the Market Basket prices were higher now than before the action that closed them down for weeks and weeks. I got to the lemons, which had always been two for $1.17 and they were now 99¢ apiece. I bitched about the hike in price. Afterall, I use about a lemon per day because the only liquid I drink is black tea with lemon - all day; every day.
I was in another supermarket where the lemons are usually 69¢ – up to 99¢ there too. They were lousy specimens as well – thick, spongy outer skins, minimal juice. I was on the phone with a friend. I said, projecting a fantasy nightmare, “The next thing you know something cataclysmic will happen in the agricultural world and Trader Joe’s won’t have any lemons.” That’s really where I buy my lemons: they have always been 49¢ each.
My nightmare came true. At Trader Joe’s yesterday there were no lemons. They had limes. They had citrus fruit. No lemons. I asked a helpful employee and he told me that they are unable to line up a producer or distributor of lemons. He cited two factors. One: There has been a significant drought in California and Mexico, so the crop is shockingly weak. Two: The farmers in Mexico are being convinced to grown corn instead of lemons for use in something industrial that I can’t remember.
Okay, okay, this is definitely a First World problem, but even for a person like me who leaves the environmental work to others (we all have to specialize, no?), this is a moment of note. Lemons are one of the basic foodstuffs in my world. Free the lemons!