As I’m sure you’ve heard the UK is currently experiencing a ‘vegetable crisis’. Due to bad weather, Spanish crops are heavily affected, leading to a shortage of broccoli, courgettes, aubergines, spinach and iceberg lettuce on British supermarket shelves. Even though supply had been low for a few weeks now, the matter hit the headlines again today, because some supermarkets are rationing the amount of broccoli or iceberg lettuce a customer can buy in one go. Morrisons is rationing broccoli to 3 heads per customer per visit. That seems quite generous. I would have thought most people don’t need more than that per day.
Reading the BBC News, I was surprised that the shortage of iceberg lettuce seems to be the biggest problem. Really? Well, let me put your mind at rest: If your local shop is short of iceberg lettuce, get another type of lettuce or leafy veg. It will be more nutritious, whatever it is. Iceberg lettuce is not a great source of nutrients and definitely not worth forking out £4 for (the normal price is 42p – 60p).
All of this is unfortunate, but is it a ‘crisis’? It certainly is for the growers in Spain whose crops are destroyed and who have nothing to sell. For customers in the UK it may be a little inconvenient (unless you are a rabbit or turtle), but there is more to the world of vegetables than just broccoli, spinach, courgettes, aubergines and iceberg lettuce – even if you just got into the low-carb thing and love your courgetti.
If you shop locally, you wouldn’t even notice that anything is amiss. If your vegetables are delivered to your door via a box scheme, you’d find that it is still crammed full to the top and that the price has not changed. The farmers’ market or farm shop will be well stocked. That’s because the contents of your box or the goods from the farm are a) British and b) in season. And that’s what we should be eating anyway: for freshness, for the local economy, for the environment.
So, what can you get? Right now in season are Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower (so the cauliflower rice is safe, thank goodness – I’m not being sarcastic, I love it!), celery and celeriac, chicory, kale, purple sprouting broccoli, leeks, parsnips, swede and turnips. Watercress is not far off, just a few weeks and that’s a leafy green back on the menu, too. Click here for a table of seasonal vegetables, if you would like to keep an eye on what's coming up.
If you do like to replace pasta with courgetti here and there and you can’t get your hands on any courgettes right now, try something new! How about spiralised celeriac? Here’s an amazing recipe by Hemsley & Hemsley for that. I promise you it tastes divine. Or try shredded cabbage: Cut it into ribbons, steam briefly so it retains some bite and serve with your favourite pasta sauce. Be creative! There is no vegetable crisis, we’re not going to starve but may just get into more seasonal and local food. What’s not to like?