The Lime Correspondent: Lime Culture

By Patrick Gallagher
Blogger

After the resounding response to my last article, “The Origin of Limes,” I would first like to thank my readers and supporters out there. As The College of New Jersey’s sole Lime Correspondent, I have to fight the good fight for this little green citrus. Now, with that out of the way, there are more pressing matters to discuss.

(AP Photo)
(AP Photo)

The price of limes in Mexico is rising, due to heavy rain in heavy lime-producing states, and in one state, a bacterium infecting lime trees. But how does this affect you, the average American? The person who only cares about limes in their guacamole at Chipotle and in their margaritas? The answer is simple — the United States imports most of its limes from Mexico. This rise in prices has caused the average lime in American grocery stores to rise to a price of 53 cents. For comparison, at this time last year, the average lime cost 21 cents.

Interestingly enough, Mexican gangs have started stealing from trucks exporting limes from Mexico to America. That’s right, actual gang activity over this fruit. At its current price, some are even beginning to call this citrus “green gold.” Fortunately, there is hope for lime prices in North America. As the spring comes, the harvests are sure to be more bountiful and the prices of limes will go down.

Now, while these limes are grown mostly in Mexico today, limes have origins in the Middle East and Asia. In fact, one of the most common lime varieties, the Persian lime, was first widely cultivated in modern day Iran and Iraq. While this is considered the “default” lime to consumers today, it is actually hypothesized that the Persian lime is a hybrid of the Key lime and either the lemon or citron.

There is a greater point to make here. The threat of losing affordable limes force people into thievery and brute force. The British Armada had lives on the line if they could not get limes. This fruit is one our culture takes for granted.

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