We're Not Running Out of Kale

If your Facebook feed is anything like mine, lately it's been focused on two crises: What's happening in Gaza, and the global kale shortage. (Well, three crises if you want to count people having a hard time choosing what to wear to Comic-Con.) While the former's probably not a suitable topic to explore on a food website, the latter is definitely in my wheelhouse.

Fortunately -- or, unfortunately, if you're someone like me and are sick of the vile, green weed -- there's not a whole lot to talk about when it comes to the global kale shortage. There is no shortage. You can stop clearing out your backyards in order to lay the foundation for your own kale garden, fortifying it with barbed wire, guard dogs, and hired muscle walking the perimeter 24/7 with a shotgun to keep looters from stealing your supply.

Despite warnings to the contrary, kale isn't going anywhere.

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First, let's explore just why people decided to lose their minds last week over nothing. The panic could be traced to a report from an Australian news agency that said one of the world's largest kale seed suppliers is out of stock. Explains one of the owners of the company, in particularly cute phrasing:

"You could describe it as embarrassing to us, but it's just one of those things that's happened on a global basis," Tony Hubbard from Bejo Seeds, which is based in the Netherlands, said. "It's caught us out well and truly, we put our hands up to that."

The basic story: Kale demand is so high that one of the biggest seed companies simply ran out. However, everyone took that single piece of information as evidence that the entire world's supply is running out. "Stop eating so much kale, you hipsters, you're starting a global shortage that's going to cause the leafy green to go extinct!" was a common sentiment, which had the legs to go viral simply because of its anti-hipster stance.

However, that's kind of the opposite of what's happening.

The thing to highlight (and this was particularly clear for anyone who actually read the Australian article) was that the suppliers weren't worried about a shortage. They were simply upset they weren't able to cash in as much as they would because they'd run out. And they ran out because demand was so high.

The other thing that happens when demand is high, particularly for a product that's incredibly cheap and easy to produce, is that a new influx of growers enter the market. (To give you some sense of comparison, it's how tons of new people are all of a sudden in the marijuana game after Colorado legalized its sale.) And that's what's happened here. Simply put, there's a whole lot more farmers growing kale now than ever before.

As supply and demand rules will tell you, this is not the greatest of news for farmers looking to turn a massive profit off the crop:

While previous years brought prices between $8 and $10 per 24-count box, current prices are more within the range of $6 to $8 per box. The drop in prices is due to increased supplies brought on by more growers looking to capitalize on the super food label attached to kale.

But as far as those actually paying for and consuming the kale? It's all good news. Not only is there not a global kale shortage, there's actually so much kale that it's dropping in price. The crisis has officially been averted.

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About the Author

Rick Paulas has written plenty of things, some of them serious, many of them not, scattered over the vast expanses of the Internet. He lives in Los Angeles and is a White Sox fan.
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