Why are we in this pickle? The answer is a perfect storm of forces, ordinary, extraordinary, and chronic.
First off, this time of year most of our limes in the US come from Mexico, and the areas there where limes are most heavily cultivated saw an unusual amount of rain last Fall. This apparently inhibited the formation of flower buds on the trees, resulting in a reduced yield. Weather happens, and alone this would likely have created but a blip in prices, not a shock.
Of more serious concern is Huang Long Bing. This is a bacteria spread by insects which first ruins the fruit of citrus trees, then kills them entirely within a few years. It is taking hold in Mexico’s lime-rich Colima area and will likely affect lime production for the foreseeable future. If that doesn’t make you shudder by itself, how does the fact that Huang Long Bing has settled into Florida, and its carrying insects have been found in quantity in California?
So the one season weather problem and the longer-term bacteria problem have driven up lime prices in other Mexican areas that do have produce coming off the trees. Which has drawn the attention of Mexico’s largest plague: Drug cartels. They look and see all that green moving through their territory and do what any criminal entrepreneur would: Grab automatic weapons and set up road blocks to extort “tolls” from trucks full of limes, or even just outright hijack them to sell the fruit themselves. There are even reports of the Knights Templar narco gang going right to the source and outright taking over entire farms for themselves!
So yeah, the argument can now be made, similar to the old one about cocaine, that that Margarita you are enjoying is supporting drug lords.
What is to be done? Well, perhaps America’s forlorn cocktailian eyes will have to turn to Canada for help in the fight against citro-terrorism. Pictured atop this post is Darcy O’Neil (some Photoshop may have been applied), who stands ready to help you fight back. Darcy makes Acid Phosphate (and Lactart) an acidifier for cocktails that, while not a direct replacement for lime juice, alas, is well worth exploring to assuage your taste for tart in drinks. And it is 100% free of interference from, and subsidization of Mexican drug lords. At least until they start hijacking trucks from Amazon.com. Lest this give the Knights Templar any ideas, they should remember that Bezos has drones….