The Great Romaine Crisis of 2018 shows no sign of letting up. Federal health officials have yet to determine the specific source of most of the romaine lettuce linked to an E. coli outbreak that, as of Friday, has sickened almost 100 people. Beyond warning consumers to avoid all romaine from the Yuma, Arizona, growing region, where most of the country’s winter supply of the leafy green is grown, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hasn’t released much more information about the largest multistate E. coli outbreak in more than a decade. In light of the situation, restaurants have either completely stopped serving romaine or assured their customers that their romaine supply is sourced from elsewhere. But what about saladeries actually at ground zero of the Great Romaine Crisis? Has the entire town of Yuma been forced to find a new favorite salad green?
Apparently not. According to Emma, an assistant manager at Kneaders Bakery and Café, they also get their romaine from elsewhere: central California, to be exact. “Probably, since it started, 10 or 15 people a day ask me if we’re still serving lettuce,” she told me. “I just let them know that we are and that our lettuce isn’t from here and they’re typically relieved about it.” Listed on Yelp as one of the best salad spots in Yuma, Kneaders is among one of the more fortunate restaurants in the area. A few customers have told Emma that other romaine-slinging spots with a local supply have had to stop selling salad altogether.
But that isn’t deterring some particularly tenacious romainiacs. “I had one customer come here and just order romaine,” she laughed. “He went to another restaurant and they didn’t have romaine with what he wanted so then he came here to buy just romaine, to fulfill what he was wanting.” She’s also fairly confident that Kneaders is experiencing a boost in romaine revenue due to their prescient choice of an interstate supplier. “[Customers] know where they can come back.”