Would you buy lettuce for $50 a pound? Or sprouts for $64 a pound? Those are the very real prices of some very real produce in New York City right now.
According to a new report from Bloomberg, the Windfall Farms stall at Manhattan’s Union Square Greenmarket sells these very greens, and the whole operation looks like something out of a "Madison Avenue boutique."
They're baby greens, and just like, well, real babies, they cost way more than you think. Most are about $12 for 4 ounces, which amounts fo $48 a pound. The priciest item in the stall is the red amaranth sprouts, which come to a whopping $64 a pound.
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And yes, people buy them. Not just at Windfall, though; the wild arugula and baby mustard greens from Landis Farm across the market cost an adequately pricey $24 a pound.
Morse Pitts, the owner of Windfall, told Bloomberg he "estimates that two-thirds of his customers are home cooks who’ve sampled other options at the market and know that his are distinctly flavorful. Buyers also appreciate the ability to create a gorgeous salad simply by emptying the contents of one of Windfall’s tidy zip-close bags into a bowl—no washing necessary."
But some, he presumes, care a little less about the actual salad they'll be making with the lettuce and more about the fact that they get bragging rights for their most exciting organic produce find.
Beside home cooks; other consumers are celebrated chefs. Jean-Georges Vongerichten, George Mendes, Alex Stupak, and more come to Windfall for their greens—at any cost. Jeremiah Stone told the news outlet that “Windfall greens are the tastiest. They’re also perfect. The prices seem insane, but actually most of the product is really light, so you get a lot. Other farmers make fun of Windfall—their produce is so precious and clean—"but then they’ll sell you carrots with lots of dirt on them and still charge you a lot.”
So, what makes these lettuces so expensive? There's the freshness of the produce, of course, plus the hand-washing they receive. Seeds cost a lot, too. But it's mostly the labor of actually picking these things by hand. That's because the lettuce has to be cut in a particular place and no machines are used in the process. Another cost factor to consider? Pitts says his farm tries to pay people $15 an hour, although the national average wage for farmers is $10.52.
If it all sounds too rich for your blood to shell out the contents of your wallet on a salad that expensive, you can always stick to what you know.