point Talking Do we rely too much on imported veg?
YOU don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone,” as the song says. A few weeks ago supermarkets were running out of imported fresh veg after freak weather in southern Europe ruined the farmers’ harvests of courgettes and salad vegetables.
It was a wake-up call showing just how reliant we’ve become on having a wide choice of produce always available, no matter what the season.
In the meantime, amongst the shelves bereft of Mediterranean items, locally grown Brussels sprouts, purple sprouting broccoli, cabbage of various colours, carrots, cauliflower, celeriac, cucumber, leeks, onions, shallots, parsnips, potatoes, swede, tomatoes and turnips were still available.
Yet to look at the newspapers at the time, you’d have thought we were about to be faced with major food shortages.
As a nation, we’ve got out of the habit of eating seasonally and preparing food from scratch. The UK currently imports around 50% of its vegetables and 90% of its fruit.
According to the National Farmers’ Union, that means we’d have enough fresh fruit and veg for only eight months in the year if we were to rely on what we grow here.
There’s no doubt that it’s lovely to have the choice of buying fresh produce out of season, if it’s available. Equally, the world-wide trade which makes that possible is vital to the income of growers in many countries, including our own.
The air miles involved in that trade, though, isn’t ideal for the environment. As ever, we need a balance – some overseas produce for variety and trade, and plenty of locally produced food to please our tastes, our purses and the environment!