An onion headline: Global onion shortage

Onions are offered for sale at Eastern Market on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

Onion prices in India have jumped 400 percent. If you’re make a lot of curries, that’s a bad thing.

“When that is the way you cook,” says Raghavan Iyer, author of "Indian Cooking Unfolded." “You really can’t imagine putting out a meal without onions.”

The Indian onion shortage won’t cramp the market here; that’s a good thing.

“Onions are at the core of my cooking, and pretty much everybody’s cooking,” says Jesse Cool, California chef and author of the cookbook "Onions." “Jokingly, when people ask the question what are the three vegetables you have if you are stuck on a desert island? My first is always the onion.”

Lucky for Cool, and the rest of us, an onion shortage in the U.S. is unlikely.

Wayne Mininger says, in his 28 years with the National Onion Association, he’s never heard of a situation where shoppers couldn’t get a hold of onions.

“People may have to pay more for an onion, but they can get an onion, any day for the year, virtually in any market,” he says.

Canada and Mexico are ready to ship extra onions when we need them.

Mininger says we eat an average of 20 pounds of fresh onions a year and another pound or pound and a half of dehydrated onion, like onion power and onion flakes.

I ask him what one thing he wishes everyone knew about onions.

“There’s an onion for every occasion,” says Mininger, “there’s an onion available in every season, there’s an onion for every application.”

Every application except one: Futures trading. Turns out onions are the one vegetable you can’t trade.

About the author

Adriene Hill is the senior multimedia reporter for LearningCurve.

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