It’s hard to imagine spending your entire budget on vegetables alone. Most people choose budget-friendly options that provide necessary nutrients, but there are also some extravagant collections of vegetables beyond our affordable price. Let’s explore the world’s top 10 most expensive vegetables and the reasons behind their substantial price tags.
10Snow Peas, $13
Snow peas are a type of pea with flattened, pale green pods approximately two to three inches long. Both the peas and pods are edible and have a sweet flavor and tender yet crisp texture. At their early stage, you can eat both the leaves and flowers of the snow pea plant. You can add snow peas to many oriental cuisines, stir-fries, fried rice, and noodle dishes.
Their crunchy flavor complements soups, curries, and meats prepared in a rich sauce, soups, and curries. This humble green vegetable usually retails at the supermarket chain for around $13 per kg, but in 2022, the price skyrocketed to AUD 42 per kg due to adverse weather conditions.
9Pink Lettuce, $20
The pink lettuce, also known as La Rosa del Veneto radicchio or chicory, is a robust variety native to Italy. It adds a delightful pink color to any dish due to the presence of beta-carotene and pairs well with rich, fatty, or sweet ingredients. This variety ensures optimal color and flavor during harvest under specific growing conditions and precise timing.
Its bitter flavor makes it suitable for salads, and a slight sweetness helps it pair well with fruits like oranges, grapefruits, and red onions. According to the New York Post, pink lettuce sold for $10 per pound at Campo Rosso Farms in Pennsylvania, with an average cost of around $20 per kg.
8Yamashita Spinach, $26
Yamashita Spinach is a premium spinach grown by Asafumi Yamashita, a Japanese cultivator. He maintains a micro-farm of only seven types of vegetables, each with a perfect balance of color, taste, and texture, thanks to his dedication to farming excellence and careful farming practices.
Yamashita Spinach is now in high demand among Michelin-star restaurants and an elite clientele, causing its cost to rise to approximately $26 per kg. You can add this versatile spinach to salads, hot dishes, snacks, soups, side dishes, or fruit smoothies. Its vitamins and antioxidants help protect against chronic diseases and benefit the heart, brain, and eyes, making Yamashita spinach much more expensive.
Fresh wasabi roots are expensive due to the difficulty of growing commercially. Although mostly grown in mountainous regions in Japan, some North American companies like Pacific Coast Wasabi and Frog Eyes Wasabi are trying to grow it in greenhouses.
The plant requires a constant supply of running spring water, a shady area with rocky soil or gravel, and a temperature of around 8-20 degrees centigrade all year round without too much humidity. Japanese farms flood mountain water over crops in gravel beds to provide appropriate growing conditions. Its average cost is around $146 per kg, commonly used to give sushi a distinctive pungent, spicy flavor.
6Spanish Peas, $175
Spanish Peas are a unique variety of peas grown in Basque, Spain. They have a unique tear-drop shape and a salty flavor. Due to their short spring harvesting season, which lasts only a few weeks, they are only available in limited quantities each year. As a result, they are highly sought-after by chefs and local purveyors.
Hand-harvesting is necessary for these peas, and cooking them in brief form helps preserve flavor. Although you can add them to savory dishes, you may be surprised to see them served with ice cream. Their hand-harvesting process and careful farming practices required for commercial cultivation make Spanish peas expensive. They can cost around $175 per kg.
5Le Bonnotte Potato, $640
Le Bonnotte potatoes are a unique variety grown exclusively on France’s Ile De Noirmoutier island. They are exceptionally rare, available for only ten days a year, making them very expensive and costing around $640 per kg. These aromatic potatoes have a unique flavor due to being cultivated on sandy land using natural seaweed and algae fertilizers.
They are small, usually no larger than a golf ball, with thin skin that is easily damaged. Their creamy white pulp and soft, velvety texture pair well when served with butter and sea salt. Due to their delicate nature, Le Bonnotte potatoes must be hand-harvested individually for only one week each year.
4Hop Shoots, $1200
Hop shoots are the green tips of a flowering plant species in the Cannabaceae family of hemp. They are native to Europe, western Asia, and North America and take almost three years to mature. Hop shoots have many culinary uses and are rich in essential oils, vitamins, and minerals, providing high nutritional value.
Vitamins E, B6, and C in hop shoots have antioxidant properties that increase the immune system’s activity, decrease illness susceptibility, and promote good digestive health. With their anti-inflammatory impact, hop shoots lessen redness and irritations. They have a substantial price tag of around $1200 per kg due to labor-intensive hand-harvesting and the unique growing environment with exact temperatures and soil conditions.
3Mutsutake Mushroom, $2000
Matsutake mushrooms are an expensive delicacy in Japanese cuisine due to their spicy or cinnamon flavor with a pungent smell. They are native to the Tamba region, near Kyoto, and their cultivation is really complex due to their complicated symbiotic relationship with certain tree species. This contributes to their scarcity and high price, reaching up to $2000 per kg.
The Tamba matsutake brand is the most famous in Japan, with prices reaching approximately $104,466.96 per kg in auctions. As demand for the mushrooms continues to grow and their natural habitat deteriorates, their supply is dwindling, with an annual harvest of under 1000 tonnes.
2Alba White Truffles, $3000
The white truffle is a rare delicacy from the woods of Alba, Piedmont, Italy. These truffles are larger, more fragrant, and more flavorful than others, with hints of nuts and sweet garlic. They require compact soil and grow on trees like chestnut, oak, and linden, changing color from yellow to grey to pink as they mature.
Only licensed truffle hunters can hunt them due to their elusive nature. Alba white truffles help enhance the flavor of dishes such as cheese fondue, eggs, or local raw beef seasoned with olive oil, salt, and pepper. These truffles can be quite expensive, reaching up to $3000 per kg.
1Yartsa Gunbu, $87000
Yartsa Gunbu, also known as caterpillar fungus, grows on the Himalayan peaks at altitudes between 3000 and 5000 meters in Nepal, Bhutan, India, and the Tibetan Plateau. Its Tibetan name, Yartsa Gunbu, translates to summer grass or winter worm. It is the world’s most expensive mushroom, offering traditional Chinese and Tibetan medicinal properties.
Difficulty in harvesting makes it one of the most valuable specimens. Even for centuries, Yatsa Gunbu represented male strength and sexuality. Its rarity contributes to its high price, reaching up to $87,000 per kg. Global warming and over-harvesting are contributing to the warming of their natural habitat, which is putting a strain on their fragile ecosystems.