Where is Your Romaine from Anyway?
The California LGMA has received several questions about where leafy greens are grown in California. It can be a bit complicated, particularly if you are not familiar with the agricultural growing areas of California. We hope the information below will help clarify a few things. For starters, we are providing a map which shows the three main leafy greens growing regions — each located in different parts of the state.
The desert regions of California and Arizona ceased shipping in early April, and today most of the romaine lettuce available for sale is coming from the Central Coast region of California near the cities of Salinas, Santa Maria and Oxnard. This is the primary growing area for leafy greens during the summer months.
It is also possible this time of year, that romaine and other leafy greens are coming from Florida and Mexico. Many local farms around the country are also beginning to produce leafy greens and this will continue throughout the summer. Together the members of the California and Arizona LGMA’s produce 94.7 percent of the leafy greens consumed by Americans.
The San Joaquin Valley is in the center of the state and a small mountain range separates this growing region from the coastal growing areas. This area produces a much smaller volume of leafy greens and the timing is limited to the Spring and Fall.
The Desert growing area is where leafy greens come from during the winter months. This area is known for mild temperatures during the winter but is extremely hot in the Spring and Summer. Coachella and Imperial are the two valleys which make up the desert growing area. These are located very close to the borders of Mexico and Arizona. This area is no longer producing leafy greens today. All California leafy greens are being harvested in the coastal region, which is several hundred miles north of the Desert.
Recent consumer advisories from public health agencies have been limited only to romaine lettuce grown in the Yuma, AZ region. The California LGMA wants people to understand that food safety is our top priority. The LGMA food safety program was formed in 2007 as an unprecedented commitment to protecting public health. There is no other program in the produce industry that is more rigorous when it comes to on-farm food safety practices.
All members of the LGMA are required to follow a set of science-based food safety practices on their farms. They are subject to mandatory government audits to verify these practices are being followed. Every certified member of the LGMA is audited by government officials an average of five times per year.
Additional information about California leafy greens is available at www.safeleafygreens.gov.