I found it difficult to look at a courgette this week; the same goes for broccoli and lettuce too. After all, how could I enjoy such luxuries when I know full well that the good people of the UK cannot get their hands on them? Indeed, according to the UK’s favourite tabloid, the Daily Hate, people are craving for them and will pay anything up to ten times the normal price just to get their hands on a nice juicy iceberg. Indeed, some supermarkets are rationing supplies to prevent ‘bulk buying’. The official reason for the shortage is blamed upon poor weather in Spain and other southern European countries, which will probably not be normalised until April. Of course, much depends upon where you shop, and other supermarkets have more than enough stock from other suppliers, although of course this ‘shortage’ has led to a rapid increase in prices.
It did make me smile when I read on the letters page that some keen Brexiters are complaining that the shortage is a conspiracy by the Spanish, French and other European countries to get their own back on the UK’s cheeky attempts to leave the European Union. Apparently, Spanish vegetable growers, who grow around 80 per cent of all EU out of season fresh produce, are so greedy that they prefer to feed their own people courgettes, broccoli and lettuce rather than to send them to the UK where they could get ten times the normal price. According to the Daily Hate, Spain is accused of “hoarding” fruit and vegetables whilst British shoppers are being rationed. It is just so selfish and typical of those difficult Europeans, isn't it? Well, with the Brexit negotiations about to start, it can only get worse.
Seriously, I am not a great lover of the humble courgette, although I don't mind too much if it is heavily disguised as something else. Indeed, I learned last week that courgettes can now be turned into a kind of spaghetti, which involves the use of an expensive machine to magically turn a courgette into ‘courghetti’ and, in this way, people will now eat them since they are supremely good for you. Did you know that all adults should now be eating at least ten portions of fruit and veg each day, rather than five? Apparently, courgettes do the job nicely, resulting in the courgette shortage, as well as increased bowel movement, so please be careful.
Now, broccoli is a different matter; I adore broccoli and particularly when it is served with a nice Stilton or blue cheese sauce. Served with a nice crusty chunk of bread, it is a quick and nutritious meal that I can highly recommend that used to be served as ‘Brocco Breath’ in one of my favourite UK cafe bars. The name becomes obvious if you use the correct type of strong cheese!
On to the subject of the iceberg lettuce; now be honest, does anyone actually eat and enjoy them? Surely, the main purpose of the iceberg lettuce is to look fresh and lovely when you buy it, to look self-righteous at the check-out when you buy it alongside that pack of jam donuts, and then to lurk in the back of the fridge unloved and forgotten for a week until it collapses with embarrassment, turning into a pungent brown slurry before it is finally discovered and disposed of; unloved, unused and forgotten. Personally, I wouldn't eat one either; they are tasteless and reminds me of chewing through pages of the Daily Hate, which seriously disables the digestion.
I was surprised to learn that around 90 per cent of fruit consumed in Britain is imported from Europe, as well as around 50 per cent of vegetables. The UK also has to import significant quantities of fruit and vegetables from South America and the US, which makes a nonsense of the carbon footprint, as well as the UK economy.
I was faced with boxes of fresh courgettes, broccoli and the dreaded iceberg lettuce in my local supermarket in the Canary Islands this week. The prices were about normal for this time of the year, and until I read the article I was unaware of what the fuss is all about. If you are really desperate for an iceberg lettuce, courgette or broccoli, might I suggest that you pop out with an empty suitcase and take advantage of our plentiful supplies of fruit and vegetables, as well as our sunshine. Alternatively, there are always frozen food products.
If you enjoyed this article, take a look at Barrie’s websites: http://barriemahoney.com and http://thecanaryislander.com or read his latest book, ‘Footprints in the Sand’ (ISBN: 9780995602717). Available in paperback, as well as Kindle editions.
© Barrie Mahoney