Onions: Causing More Damage Than Just Watery Eyes

Indian traders check the quality of onions at the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) in Ahmedabad on December 21, 2010. India suspended exports of onions, a key food staple, after prices of the vegetable soared, adding to the government's inflation woes. (Sam Panthaky/AFP/Getty Images)

A shortage of onions in India may cause more harm than just hunger.

Did you know that rising costs of vegetables like onions in a country like India could actually help bring down the national government? In 2004, high prices of commodities like onions in Indian cuisine made that happen. In 1998, Delhi's chief minister was forced to resign when he suggested poor people should "give up onions" when prices escalated. And today, the rising cost of this tear-jerking vegetable may cause a backlash from buyers again. 

The rise in prices of onions in India has been blamed on unusually heavy rains in growing areas, according to the BBC. Prices have more than doubled since last week, jumping from 35 rupees per kilogram to 70 rupees ($1.55) this week. In an attempt to prevent a further shortage from taking place, the government has temporarily suspended exporting onions. Instead, Delhi and other northern states are getting help from neighboring Pakistan to help bring the zing back to their curries with about 350 tons of imported onions.

Onions are a staple ingredient in Indian cuisine. A ground onion paste is used as a base to most meat and vegetarian curries. But one Delhi restauranteur said onions were so expensive he would no longer give them away as side dish accompaniment with kebabs, reports the Telegraph.  

But according to Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, this curry crisis may come to a halt within the next two to three weeks. 

Here's hoping Pakistani onions will do more than just wipe tears in India. Peace and negotiation, anyone?