As a new year has begun many people have embarked on a heath kick of less alcohol, more exercise and healthy eating including the inevitable consumption of more vegetables and other green things. The Christmas juicers are out of the box, spiralizers have been assembled and the vegetable isles in the local supermarkets are looking somewhat sparse, but this is not just because of the high demand we put on them in January.
We live in a world where are super markets have no seasons and we have access to almost any vegetable all year round. But, at what cost? At this time of year the Mediterranean supplies the UK with most of our lettuce, courgettes, peppers and other leafy greens but due to a very wet and cold winter they simply can’t keep up with demand. South America who are also producers of our shortage vegetables are unable to fill the deficit so we’re left with empty shelves and rationing of these items. Who ever thought we’d be told we could only buy 3 iceberg lettuces at a time?!
Having done a little research as to why the humble courgette is so popular I’m not sure I have an answer. It’s filled with a great selection of vitamins but contains so few calories that apart from the fact it fits perfectly on a spiralizer we really have gone a long way to putting this out of season vegetable on a pedalstool in a bid to eat it all year round. With the current shortage of such vegetables supermarkets have been paying over the odds for boxes of these ‘rare’ items in a bid just to keep their shelves stocked.
I guess my point is that perhaps we’ve become selfish in our over exposure to having so much choice at our finger tips. Wouldn’t it be nice to look forward to British strawberries in the summer knowing they will be sweet and juicy in their dark red skins rather than eating them out of the UK season, grown abroad and picked well before they are ripe to allow for travel time to our shelves?
Supermarkets are a monopoly of convenience, people don’t have the time or want to make time to stop at the local farm shop for their in season vegetables and organic veg boxes aren’t within everyone’s price range. Going to one shop and getting everything you need for the week on your way home from work is so much easier. So maybe supermarkets are partly to blame as they control what reaches their shelves based on what us the consumer wants. Are we really that bothered where the peppers have come from as long as you can make your chicken fajitas for your evening meal? We really don’t like to be inconvenienced.
What UK seasonal veg could we be eating instead? Greens and root veg, cauliflower, cabbage, rhubarb are all in their prime right now and will taste amazing and have far less air miles than other vegetables that favour hot climates. Support local, stop at the farm shop you drive past everyday on your way to work, see what they have. Put some money back into your community and eat better food. Or if this isn’t an option at least look at the food packets in supermarkets to see where the fruit and vegetables have travelled from, try where possible to buy UK produce and enjoy some fresh, tasty produce.
Living in Purbeck here’s a few local suggestions from us; Gourmet Goats Dorset (Ben), Nursery Bridge Farm, Valley Road – eggs, jams, pumpkins, gourds, greens. Godlingston Manor Gardens (Regula) – herbs, veg, eggs, amazing seasonal goodies. Budgens, High Street – these guys stock local produce from the surrounding area, this also extends to fish, meat and bread.